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Improving Teacher Conditions & Careers

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Tom Vander Ark & Carri Schneider


As the nation celebrates National Teacher Appreciation Week, we couldn't think of a better way to honor National Teacher Day than with a paper that highlights the positive impacts that blended learning is having on the teaching profession.


Today Digital Learning Now! (DLN), a national campaign supported by ExcelinEd, released the seventh white paper in the DLN Smart Series -- "Improving Conditions & Careers: How Blended Learning Can Improve the Teaching Profession."


The paper brings together Smart Series authors from DLN and Getting Smart with co-authors Bryan and Emily Hassel of Public Impact. Their work on leveraging great teaching with technology and creating an Opportunity Culture in schools has accelerated and improved the development of new school models over the last thirty months.


Blended learning environments allow teachers to work in teams, support new teachers, expand collaboration time, provide personalized professional development, and expanded leadership opportunities.


The goal with the paper is to inform educators, leaders, stakeholders and policymakers about the potential of blended learning to offer better teaching conditions and enable better career opportunities, while confronting current misconceptions about teaching and technology.


In what couldn't be better timing, this week the NEA released a Policy Statement on Digital Learning that shows alignment with the paper's goals:


"NEA believes that the increasing use of technology in the classroom will transform the role of educators allowing the educational process to become ever more student centered. This latest transformation is not novel, but part of the continuing evolution of our education system. Educators, as professionals working in the best interests of their students, will continue to adjust and adapt their instructional practice and use of digital technology/tools to meet the needs and enhance the learning of their students."


It's exciting to see the NEA formally recognize what so many teachers in the field are already experiencing about the positive impact blended learning can have on the profession.


With teacher satisfaction at its lowest point in 25 years according to the most recent MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, and increased demands on teachers from the implementation of college and career readiness standards and online assessments, there has never been a better time to explore ways to improve the lives of teachers.


The paper makes the case that the shift to personalized, blended learning will yield extended time with students, more team-teaching and collaboration, new options to teach at home, a greater focus on deeper learning, individualized professional development plans, better student data to inform instruction, and more earning power.


"If blended learning lets great teachers help more students, develop peers, and earn far more, they will show us the way to make digital learning outstanding," said Bryan C. Hassel, Co-Director of Public Impact. "Even very small amounts of digital learning make job-embedded development, expanded impact, and much higher pay possible."


The paper features an overview of the teaching profession in transition, including the current demands on teachers and the redefined teacher roles that the shift to personalized learning necessitates. In a discussion of the improved teaching conditions that blended learning affords, we detail differentiated staffing and improved opportunities for collaboration and professional development. The section on improved career opportunities and pay builds on the work of Public Impact and DLN to review the opportunities to earn more within current budgets and the creation of policies to support better opportunities for teachers.


For more information, check out the full paper "Improving Conditions & Careers: How Blended Learning Can Improve the Teaching Profession" and the accompanying infographic " Blended Learning & The Teaching Profession."

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