The average school year is 36 weeks. Most school systems operate by a semester system of 18 weeks each. Split those into quarters and you have four 9-week periods that traditional schools calendars utilize.
We have spent almost two entire quarters in remote teaching and learning.
Add to that the post-planning and pre-planning involved.
And those online workshops that many teachers had to complete to learn new software packages like CANVAS.
“The General Assembly cut the budget line item for teacher professional development from the state budget during the recession and has never restored it. In 2008, the state budgeted $12.6 million for educator professional development. That line item has been reduced to zero. Now schools might pay for some professional development from other budget areas—like federal funding or state funding to support digital learning — or teachers can turn to grants.”
“Never restored” are two words most associated with public school education in North Carolina when comparing the climate right before COVID-19 to the one before the Great Recession and the advent of ALEC-inspired “reforms” to public education championed by current NCGA leadership.
Ask any professional in an ever-changing, global society about the need to keep up with latest practices and approaches to serving those who depend on them. He /she will probably cite the need to keep learning and coming into contact with others who are attempting to not staying stagnant or becoming out-of-date. They will talk about the need for ongoing professional development.
Teachers are no different. And the state of NC used to help make that happen for teachers, but in the years of a supposed economic boom, the fact that this investment in teacher professional development had not been restored and expanded is completely ignorant and outright spiteful.
And now we have this new economic downturn. If history serves as a guide, we will not be getting those funds back for professional development anytime soon. But it would be hard to not think that the past eight weeks have been nothing less than on the job professional development.
It’s also hard to think that each teacher in these past few months not having earned multiple renewal credits.
In just the last half of a year with setting up and running a virtual classroom for each of my preps, I imagine that I have learned at least a dozen new technological tools to facilitate learning.
That’s not counting the continued use of other applications I have learned this year.
I have spent hours creating videos and audio files in different venues to test and see what is best for my classes which have used Zoom for actual class meetings.
And finding resources online that engage students with curriculum instead of just giving them something to do to pass the time actually takes time. Furthermore, adjusting how assignments are given and finished assignments received and then offering feedback is still an ongoing endeavor.
And the collaboration that has been occurring is amazing. By the end of this school year, I imagine every teacher in public schools helping to facilitate learning for students at home will have done more than is required for the mandatory digital learning credits and many other ones as well.
The state should award them.
And then the state should get serious about restoring professional development funds.