We asked; you answered! In June we sent out a survey asking educators a little bit about themselves and how they define and seek out professional development. We set out to learn more about what teachers are doing in their classrooms and where the pain points in receiving training and delivering material might be. The answers to our questions came pouring in, and we found them very enlightening. We thought you might too!
Keep reading to find out more about your fellow educators and their thoughts about PD!
What Do You Teach?
First off, we wanted to find out more about you, including what you teach.
Computer Science was the most popular answer written in the “Other” category. COMPUTER SCIENCE, duh! Why didn’t we think of that as an option?!
Professional Development vs. Professional Learning
Before writing this survey we did a lot of research around the term “professional development.” During that research “professional learning” popped up a lot. To us, the two terms seemed interchangeable, but we decided to ask you what the difference was, and this is what some of you said:
“Professional learning is done by choice to develop a better understanding or skill in order to improve practice. Professional development is done regularly to keep pace with changing pedagogy, content, and technology.”
“Professional development is to keep the boss happy and get a pay raise. Professional learning is for advancing in one’s passion for growth.”
“Ideally, there should be no difference! Teachers need to be lifelong learners.”
“To me professional learning would be starting from scratch. It is when you are learning a new subject for your job. Professional development would be enhancing or further developing skills in an area you already have some prior knowledge or experience in.”
“Professional learning helps me do my current position better, while professional development is expanding my capabilities to provide career growth.”
PD Delivery Methods
SparkFun has been delivering professional development (or whatever you'd like to call it) for the past four years, and we wanted to know what method of delivery you think works best. Hands-on workshops was the clear winner. Check out the graph below for the rest of the rankings:
Other Support Needs
Here at SparkFun we take pride in our technical support and customer service standards, but we wanted to know what else we can offer educators implementing SparkFun hardware into their everyday instruction.
Check out some concept videos under Resources at sparkfuneducation.com and keep an eye out for more Getting Started videos coming soon!
What is Lacking From Professional Development?
Are there holes in the existing realm of professional development/professional learning? We wanted to know what the current market was lacking so we could provide the best, most effective tools for our teachers. Below are some of the most common and interesting responses:
“I would love to see more cross-curricular ideas for implementation of coding and electronics into all content areas. As a tech coach I would like ideas on how I can support a whole staff. I would love ongoing trainings too so I can move beyond an introductory understanding to a mastery level.”
“Classroom and instructional management in hands-on technology situations.”
“ ‘Big Picture’ overview — reimagining what is. Technical skills barrier for teachers in STEM/STEAM.”
“The biggest holes I see are lack of training beyond the implementation level. Advanced-level coding/programming as it relates to the hardware would be great.”
“Sustaining practice by empowering more users of technology across disciplines.”
A big THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to fill out our survey with candid honesty. Was this information helpful? Did you miss the window to answer the survey? Please let us know if you have anything further to add to this discussion in the comments below!