Linking to learning

Best face-to-face PD opportunities

Professional development is part of what we do to grow and expand our teaching practice. PD courses help us increase our salaries, and for those of us who are newly certified or have a professional state certificate, they’re a must: 100 hours of CTLE professional development courses over five years are required.

I’ve worked as a teacher and coach in instructional technology for nearly 20 years, but I do not have a technology background. I owe most of what I know to mentors, workshops and professional development courses. While online courses are convenient [see my March 3, 2016 column, “Technology PD for teachers”], face-to-face opportunities are still important. Meeting and establishing connections with colleagues can help build community and allow for networking and camaraderie — outcomes not easily achieved when communicating over a screen.

Here are some ideas for expanding your technology knowledge in person in the upcoming school year:

Attend a conference: The premier conference for education technology is the ISTE Conference. It will be held in nearby Philadelphia in June 2019. If you’re serious about gaining new ideas and skills, this conference is the place for you. I’ve attended three times and always learned something valuable. Educators come from across the nation to participate, and all the big names in technology are represented. Workshops are plentiful and practical. The NYSCATE NYC Conference showcases technology educators from around the state. The annual EdXEdNYC Conference is “for educators, by educators,” and while not exclusively focused on technology, offers many sessions on that topic.

Traditional workshops: Both the UFT and the city Department of Education offer after-school workshops in technology integration, usually at a much lower cost than private companies. Check upcoming UFT workshop offerings and the DOE’s ASPDP site later in the summer to see sessions for the fall semester.

Join an organization: PBS Digital Innovators is a competitive program with an application process, but once accepted, teachers join a community of educators around the nation and attend face-to-face meetups, like an annual summit with fellow teachers. They also receive a pass to the ISTE Conference. The non-profit STEMteachersNYC is located in the city and is free to join. The group offers workshops, events, networking and job postings.

Free mini workshops: At Apple Stores around the tristate area, you can attend free workshops on Apple programs with other educators. Apple Teacher Tuesdays are held after school and offer workshops on using iPads, coding, audio and video, among other options. Of course, Apple promotes its own products, but if your school already uses Apple tools, it’s a great opportunity.

New York Public Library courses: NYPL Tech Connect holds workshops at library branches in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island. Anyone can attend, but they are helpful for teachers. Topics cover everything from iPads to PowerPoint to Photoshop. Tech Connect also offers Project Code, a 10-week course to learn the basics of coding. Registration for fall courses opens in August.

Most of these opportunities offer certification to document CTLE hours, but be sure to double-check if collecting those hours is a priority for you.

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