Retaining Valuable Educators

8/15/2003 By: Susan McLester

Welcome back to school, all. To kick off the 2003-2004 school year, we bring you up to date on the latest in a variety of areas. In our comprehensive cover feature this month, "Professional Development: 21st Century Models," author Judy Salpeter reports on a number of new technology-infused initiatives in educator training-a topic that has much too often in recent years been referred to wryly as "the missing link." The sobering fact that recruiting qualified teachers is much less a problem than retaining them is disturbing-and yet not surprising. Traditionally, educators have worked in environments that perpetuate isolation to a great extent. With the exception of the occasional "guerrilla" staff development workshop or the experimental foray into team teaching or team planning, the metaphor of the closed classroom door still holds, effectively preventing educators from experiencing the very opportunities for sustained connection that their students thrive on daily via technology.

But, as Salpeter points out, inroads are being made. From archived workshops available 24/7 to best practices streaming video to online dialogue mixed with face-to-face mentoring, imaginative new approaches are being implemented worldwide to address the need for educators to communicate, collaborate, and form the collegial communities necessary to support their long-term professional needs. Though there may still be a good amount of ambivalence by the public, by legislators, and by many school leaders themselves over the place of technology in learning, no one is ambivalent about the need to keep our good teachers teaching and good leaders leading.

In our other feature, "Back-to-School Software and Web Resources," managing editor Michelle Thatcher brings you up to speed on just-shipping products and new twists to old favorites-very likely tracking, assessment, and reporting options-as well as a rundown on trends she's noting.

And speaking of trends... of the several we noted at this year's National Educational Computing Conference, which took place last June in Seattle, a major and necessary one was heralded by the rollout of the Milestones Guide for 21st Century Skills, a product compiled from research and published by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Comprising major players in the education technology industry, including the NEA, Dell, Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, AOL, and SAP, the partnership aims to spearhead the crafting of "a compelling" national vision for education that acknowledges "accelerating technological change, rapidly accumulating knowledge, increasing global competition and rising workforce capabilities around the world." Stay tuned; you will be hearing much more from us on this initiative throughout the year.

In other NECC-related news, T&L and sister publication DV launched the premier issue of Digital Video in the Classroom at that event. The first of four planned for the year, this publication went to T&L's tech director subscribers, and is now available online to all of our readers. Check it out at www.techlearning.com, and let us know what you think.

Susan McLester, editor in chief, T&L smclester@cmp.com


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