PD Following the Strangest Year Ever


July 22, 2021 by Dr. Robbie Barber

This post is Week 7 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators. The prompt for this week is: What specific professional development do you need for next school year?

Learning is a progression of steps. I do not fully learn or understand how to utilize a tool in one introductory course. I need to engage in it, practice it repeatedly, share with others, and look at concrete examples (Weinstein, Madan, & Sumeracki, 2018). One of the reasons I enjoy presenting at conferences is the opportunity it affords me to understand something from many different angles. I not only want to share my experiences but try to see other uses for those attending. In my own professional development, I need these same things.

I need to review. Yes, I want to learn new things, but I need to go over those things I used or did last year. I do have specific things I want to review and make sure I truly understand. I had a class on MS Teams this week. After the large number of Teams meetings we had last year, I was surprised how confused the host was. I had to unmute and help explain what she was seeing on the screen. I also noticed that one of the hosts only showed her top of nose and eyes. Clearly, we all need a little more training on tools we have been using.

I used Google Classrooms heavily last year but I would run into issues. Some were solvable with help, others were not fixable without changes to the product. I want to attend a short training on Google Classrooms for experienced teachers. Or, maybe I need to start with the basics review and see what I missed.

I used Loom and Screencastify for videos and YouTube to load the videos. Much of what I learned was on the fly. Attending a class of less than an hour might improve my skills significantly.

I used Wakelet and Flipgrid with teachers. I want to review and be using them more with students. (I used them last year mostly with teachers, but last year was a tiny bit different).

I have used Nearpod in the past, but we just got a school license. I need to brush up QUICKLY so I can help my teachers manage.

And, I want to go back over some other skills like sketchnoting and creating mastery quizzes. Mastery quizzes are where you take the quiz over and over again until you get it all the answers correct. I used them very tentatively in the past, but I want to do it with copyright this year.

“Learning doesn’t happen by accident (p. 4).”

Darby, F. & Lang, J.M. (2019). Small teaching online: Applying learning science in online classes. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

A big part of choosing the professional development I want is in the planning. I want to use all of these tools again this school year and I then I want to start expanding. I’ll admit upfront that I need to do more SEL but I have not found the training that fits yet. I’ll keep looking. What specific PD do you want?


Darby, F. & Lang, J.M. (2019). Small teaching online: Applying learning science in online classes. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (#Sketchnoting a Book Review blog)

Weinstein, Y., Madan, C.R. & Sumeracki, M.A. Teaching the science of learning. Cogn. Research 3, 2 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41235-017-0087-y

One thought on “PD Following the Strangest Year Ever

  1. Denise Krebs says:

    Dr. Robbie,
    I like the emphasis on taking what you’ve learned in the past to the next level this year. That will be important, and valuable for you, your teachers and students. I love mastery quizzes, like I’m able to do in Duolingo, for instance. When we learn, it is great to keep working on it until we get it, not settle for a “grade.” Real life is about mastery. We’re allowed to keep taking tests like driving tests until we pass. Education should be like that too.


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