Guest Blog by Jessica Morris, ABCTE Teacher Preparation Manager
I have the honor of moderating ABCTE’s forums [link], where I get to hear the personal stories from our driven and dedicated teachers from all over the world. In contrast to the negative economic news from the media, the forums are a fascinating look at what is happening in districts and schools. Many new teachers are scared that there will be no jobs in September and backup their posts with stories of district layoffs. Yet, others post that nearby districts are in fact growing or that, thanks to ABCTE, they have been hired full time as a fully certified teacher after working first on a temporary certificate.
There is a “ying/yang” that occurs on our forums. Someone will post good news to counter the bad news and there is always a post of hope or support to balance the messages of economic uncertainty. While everyone knows that times are tougher in some places, the forums contain real life stories showing that it may be better than the streams of bad news indicate. Some people are still finding opportunities out there and no one yet knows how the federal stimulus money will affect job openings and new leadership roles for teachers.
Our prospective teachers on the forums have demonstrated that in order to get hired you have to go the extra mile. For those that are currently teaching and find themselves surrounded by shrinking or consolidating school districts, now is the time to boost their teaching portfolios and skill sets to show that they are vital to their students’ and schools’ success [some recent evidence of this here from a Florida teacher http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/3/14/95610/6865]. Yes, teachers already have too much to do and too little time. But by finding even just an hour or two in their schedules, teachers can find new opportunities for increased efficiency and growth. The first rule in a recession is to make yourself incredibly valuable to any organization.
As a starting point, below are a few suggestions of some free professional development resources:
• Annenberg Media’s Learner.org http://www.learner.org/index.html
Offers free professional development workshops and courses which consist of video, print, and Web components that can be used for study groups or independent study.
• Electronic Field Trips from Ball State University http://www.bsu.edu/eft/home/31digest.php
This site is a result of partnerships between Ball State University and museums, national parks, and historic sites across the country. Teachers can become technology leaders by using electronic resources to expose their students to faraway locations for a more rich and active learning environment.
• MIT OpenCourseWare http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/home/home/index.htm
MIT has made a variety of its courseware, including lecture notes, videos, and syllabi, available for free. There are even suggestions for how to incorporate this content into the high school classrooms: http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/hs/home/home/index.htm
• Teacher Development from Edutopia http://www.edutopia.org/teacher-development
This site features videos and articles related to teacher development and its connection to interactive learning environments and overall best practices.
• Teacher Professional Development Sourcebook from EdWeek.org http://www.teachersourcebook.org/tsb/index.html An interactive directory of K-12 products and services for professional development organized into categories. EdWeek also keeps an archive of its ongoing free webinars: http://www.edweek.org/ew/marketplace/webinars/webinars.html#archived .
Whether you are new to the profession or a veteran, using internet resources, books, peer learning groups and other materials, you can build on your credentials and show your administrators that you are invaluable staff members that are able and willing adapt to the evolving knowledge, skills and demands of the K-12 classroom.Series on What is Happening with Teaching Jobs