Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ATA’s Professional Development (PD) program area now has 58 new virtual webinars that teachers can access online.
When the pandemic forced the government to abruptly shutter classrooms last spring, PD staff quickly responded by developing a variety of webinars to help teachers with some of the main challenges they were facing.
Mark Swanson (he/him), PD co-ordinator
“We had to evolve to meet the circumstances of the pandemic and yet still meet the demands of our membership,” said PD co-ordinator Mark Swanson.
The result is a collection of sessions on subjects such as Google Classroom, presentation software and online quizzes. The recorded webinars can be found on the Professional Development page of the ATA website under the heading “Online Professional Development.”
In addition to the webinars, PD staff officers also hosted half-hour live sessions called ConnectEd. These enabled teachers to connect with other teachers.
“It was support,” said Swanson. “It wasn’t about teaching some class or wanting help with content. It was more about teachers just supporting teachers.”
PD staff also found that they had to re-imagine their existing workshops, many of which have now been modified for online delivery.
“Even though it may now be possible to present them in person, it’s still very difficult because of the interactivity required between participants,” said Swanson.
He said PD will do its best to accommodate any requests received from the field.
PD staff officer Danny Maas drew on his previous work experience as an educational technology consultant in order to develop tools that teachers need.
He believes that the experience that he and his PD colleagues have gained throughout the pandemic will have a lasting impact on how the program area delivers services.
“We’re now developing shorter, on-demand, bite-sized modules for our teachers, so they can access them whenever they may need them.” ❚
Danny Maas (he/him), PD staff officer
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