Empowering educators to work collaboratively
GUEST COLUMN | by Lynn Ochs
As education budgets continue to tighten across the U.S., professional development for teachers is often one of the first things on the chopping block. Yet, given the growing challenges that teachers face – from lack of classroom resources and support staff to changing curriculum to standardized testing to addressing the socioeconomic and learning barriers of their students – professional learning is more important than ever.
In their book, Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School, authors Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan describe the importance of professional learning as “professional capital.” They note, “When the vast majority of teachers come to exemplify the power of professional capital, they become smart and talented, committed and collegial, thoughtful and wise. Their moral purpose is expressed in their relentless pursuit of serving their students and their communities, and in learning, always learning, how to do that better.”
For district administrators looking for ways to handle budgetary constraints without sacrificing professional learning, Knovation, a leader in advanced, personalized learning solutions, has introduced its netTrekker Search Navigator Program. This unique program provides high quality professional learning at no cost to the district. This program is designed to empower educators to work collaboratively with colleagues to create engaging, dynamic learning environments. The Navigator program leverages the power of netTrekker Search, which brings the best standards-aligned, teacher-approved digital resources and a unique set of learning tools into the classroom to effectively reach every student. Since its introduction more than 10 years ago, netTrekker Search has served over 30,000 schools and 27 million students.
The netTrekker Search Navigator Program was created in response to feedback from teachers, who have expressed great desire for more professional development opportunities as well as new ways to collaborate with colleagues. According to Knovation’s 2012 netTrekker Search Impact report, “85% of netTrekker Search users would like professional learning to help achieve a broad number of outcomes, from determining what kind of help a child needs or teaching something in a different way to specific tools for teaching STEM, Common Core or 21st century skills.”
The time is right to implement a recognition program for those willing to step up and assume a leadership role with their colleagues, while at the same time building awareness of digital resources that promote 21st century learning in the classroom.
The netTrekker Search Navigator Program takes a “grass roots” approach to professional development, recognizing individuals across the country who are sharing the benefits of netTrekker Search with colleagues and showing them how it can be used effectively in the classroom to support learning. This approach provides teachers with an opportunity to lead – a critical standard, according to Learning Forward’s new Professional Learning Standards, which states, “Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students requires skillful leaders who develop capacity, advocate, and create support systems for professional learning.”
Teachers have so much to give and don’t always have opportunities to share with their colleagues. This program provides teachers with the resources they need to conduct professional learning workshops with other educators over the course of the year while also offering some nice incentives along the way.
netTrekker Search Navigators participate in a four-hour online course that provides:
- Background knowledge on 21st century skills, information literacy, and knowledge on how netTrekker Search can support differentiated learning
- Basic understanding of how to support adult learners
- Guidance in planning a netTrekker Search workshop
- An opportunity to network and collaborate with other netTrekker Search Navigators and Knovation’s professional learning staff in the Know New Ideas online educator community
Educators who complete the netTrekker Search Navigator Program can move forward in the Navigator community by becoming Silver Level Navigators. In order to earn Silver Level Navigator status, Navigators conduct their own professional learning workshops at their school or district and contribute to the Know New Ideas community through discussion forums, blog postings and social media promotion. Silver Level Navigators receive recognition for their status and are entered to win an expense-paid trip to ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) or another state conference geared toward education. Silver Level Navigators are also invited to co-present a “best practice” webinar for other netTrekker Search users.
The netTrekker Search Navigator Program was piloted in December (2012) with 22 teachers in the St. Lucie Public School District in Florida. Participant feedback enthusiastically noted their appreciation for the hands-on, positive nature of the program and the strategies that it provided to them.
Educators who are interested in learning more about the netTrekker Search Navigator Program can go to http://www.nettrekker.com/us/support/navigator.
Lynn Ochs is Director of Professional Learning for Knovation. She has extensive experience in technology leadership, professional development and public sector service. She previously served as Director of Technology for Milford Exempted Village School District; she was Instructional Services Consultant and Director of Technology for Learning Center at Hamilton County Educational Service Center; and a Curriculum and Technology Consultant for Warren County Educational Service Center all in Ohio. Write to: [email protected]