Dr. Cristi Ford – Intro (00:00)
Welcome to Teach and Learn, a podcast for curious educators, brought to you by D2L. I’m your host, Dr. Cristi Ford, VP of Academic Affairs at D2L. Every two weeks I get candid with some of the sharpest minds in the K-20 space. We break down trending educational topics, discuss teaching strategies, and have frank conversations about the issues plaguing our schools and higher education institutions today. Whether it’s edtech, personalized learning, virtual classrooms, or diversity inclusion, we’re going to cover it all. Sharpen your pencils. Class is about to begin.
Dr. Brittany Singleton (00:39):
Thanks for joining us today on Teach and Learn. My name is Dr. Brittany Singleton and I’ll be hosting today’s show. I’m the academic affairs manager at D2L and have spent my career working in roles across the K-12, special education and higher education sectors.
Today I’m thrilled to be speaking about the topic of professional development amongst K-12 educators. We all know that effective professional development is essential to the growth of not only educators, but also students. When done correctly and consistently, it provides teachers with the necessary training needed to meet the needs of young learners. There’s a growing need and opportunity to modernize K-12 PD and to support educators and leaders with the visions forward. However, professional development has not always been prioritized given the many other responsibilities facing educators every day. With the rise in teacher burnout, it has become imperative that we figure out a practical way to offer PD that meets the needs of our teachers.
Listeners, before I jump in, I want to introduce you to our guest we have the honor of chatting with today. Listeners, before I jump in, I want to introduce you to our guest we have the honor of chatting with today. Dr. Joy Karavedas is a leader with over 25 years of executive level leadership in independent schools and nonprofits. With a master’s in education and a doctorate in organizational leadership, Dr. Karavedas actively teaches as a professor at bachelor’s and master’s levels.
She currently holds a position of director of research and new program development at Orange Lutheran High School, where she is responsible for development and oversight of the school’s flexible learning options and pathways, exploring innovation and education. She has written multiple publications and has made several presentations on a variety of topics, including hiring, training, and returning teachers.
Motivating students in an online environment and more. Dr. Karavedas recently published her first book, From Striving to Thriving: A Practical Guide to Growth in Leadership and Life. Dr. Karavedas is also the owner of Karavedas Coaching and Consulting, which provides individual and organizational coaching and consulting for leaders and teams. Dr. Karavedas, welcome.
Dr. Joy Karavedas (02:40):
Thank you so much, Brittany. I’m glad to be here.
Dr. Brittany Singleton (02:45):
Let’s start by defining where professional development is for K-12 educators. Is it standardized, different by state, and what does it look like at a high school level?
Dr. Joy Karavedas (02:55):
Well, first it looks very different everywhere you go. So, to ask, is it standardized? I think there’s some similarities, but for most places it’s going to vary between states, districts, even at the school level, whether its public, private, independent schools are going to look different than some of your public school domains. There are some commonalities in the educational setting. I would say that professional development primarily focuses on usually curricular changes, new strategies for the classroom and things of that nature. The challenge with that is it’s not typically very personalized or individualized to specific teachers. It’s actually more of a whole school setting. The entire school is going to look at PBL, the entire school is looking at a new reading curriculum, something of that nature.
Dr. Brittany Singleton (03:51):
So, I like how you touched on the entire school’s taking on the initiative to do the professional development. We’ve talked about teacher burnout on this show in the past, but it’s not something that is going away. In what ways can professional development reduce teacher burnout and retention?
Dr. Joy Karavedas (04:05):
I think that teacher burnout’s been around with us for a long time, but I think it’d be, following 2020, and we all know about the COVID pandemic. I think it became at the forefront of focus that teachers work really hard, and I think that we started seeing more and more teachers leaving education. I come from a higher ed setting. I’ve worked in schools of education in the higher ed, and we started seeing enrollment of people wanting to become teachers dropping significantly just prior to 2020, and then huge drop off after that. There was a recent survey, I think it was AACTE. We don’t have specific data, but they surveyed their institutions and higher ed and they’re seeing as much as an 11% drop in teacher enrollment into those higher ed fields of teacher training. So, it’s one, it’s a profession that you don’t see the result typically until much later. I mean, when you’re teaching third graders, you might not know that impact until much later.
I come in a K-12, but primarily high school and higher ed setting, and certainly with our high school students, we’re launching them into the world as adults, but that doesn’t mean that we’re going to see those results right away. And so, the impact on teachers can be different than it would be in other professions, I think, and the stress of doing that and the stress of making sure that day after day after day you continue to pour your heart and soul into people can be really difficult on you personally. I just attended an open house for my grandkids. They’re all in elementary school, and to watch those little kids so excited to come and show nana and papa, what they’ve done at school was wonderful, but we don’t see the hours that the teachers put into helping them to build those dioramas and paint those turtles on the wall. I also don’t see the parents that don’t come.
And I think for teachers who this is their love and their passion, I think the, sometimes watching the students who don’t have that extra support can just be personally tiring as well. And so, all of those things started building on one another, and after 2020, a lot of people said, “Maybe we can do things differently or maybe I can do things differently.” And I think that that’s where we’ve seen people making some, teachers making some other choices.
Dr. Brittany Singleton (06:30):
As a former teacher, I can relate when you say it has an impact on you in different ways, not only just teachers, but everyone. And to touch on that more in detail, I know that the impact it has, it does signify burnout, but how can we increase K-12 educators’ access to professional learning? It is more flexible and relevant to improve their satisfaction. When we talk about satisfaction, how can we improve their success and the success of their students while reducing these challenges of fatigue and retention?
Dr. Joy Karavedas (07:01):
That’s a great question. I would say that while we’re looking at the challenges of burnout and it’s all been around and we say some, I think 2020, put that at the forefront of some issues because some things were even more difficult. It’s always been here. I would say there’s also some things that we can do differently now with technology, with the flexibility. My role here at Orange Lutheran centers around flexibility and education. Well, if we can offer flexibility to our students and families who need that, we can certainly offer flexibility to our teachers who are providing it. And I think that’s one of the keys to answering this. How do we get professional development that’s more individualized and meets the needs of every teacher is offering a flexibility in the way we offer professional development. I like the smaller group settings. I know that here in our campus sometimes we do what I call lunch and learns, where we can watch a webinar, listen to a podcast together, and it’s individualized like, “Oh, I’m interested in that topic.
And it might be your history teacher, your English teacher, and maybe a staff member out from the office, and they can all be coming together to learn about a certain topic that’s individualized and interesting to them. And we have the flexibility of doing that. This became evident to us in our online, with our online teachers also. We have a robust online program. We’ve been doing it for nearly 20 years here on our campus. And my theme for this year was connection. And when we got to one of our PD days talking or with our lead teachers talking about connection to community, my thought, and I’ll show you where I was missing the mark.
My thought was that we’re going to be talking about how do we connect with our students who are online, and almost immediately the conversation flipped to we want to connect with each other and that our online teachers too need that connection because they’re, you’re sitting in your kitchen or in your office and teaching online, and you sometimes forget that you have those other people out there to kind of support you.
So when we talk about flexibility and some of them being innovative and how we’re going to do it, we have created for us something we call the instructor hub, that we have somebody who facilitates and puts a question in every day that you just could have dialogue about educational topics. But you can also as an instructor, go, “I’m feeling this, or I have a question about that. Have you heard about this?” And they can start connecting across the country with other instructors that are teaching within our program. So I think just being a little more creative and trying to use technology and maybe some other things to be a little more innovative and creative in how we’re going to do professional development in addition to the full curricular development that we need to do school wide. We can just do that a little more individualized.
Dr. Brittany Singleton (09:58):
You just briefly touched on technology a little bit, and you talked about innovation and creativity. You talked about incorporating lunch and learns. You talked about flexibility. So just to touch on a little bit more, what specific role do you think technology plays in professional learning educator success?
Dr. Joy Karavedas (10:14):
Well, I think just we’re seeing technology is changing education, it’s changing professional development as well. Certainly, the variety, we’ve talked about podcasts or webinars and the flexibility of connecting with people across the country. I think that’s certainly a huge aspect of what technology can offer. It can also, when we’re using technology in the classroom, there’s so many different strategies and so many different ways we can implement technology into the classroom and if we can bring teachers together to teach the teachers, train the trainers so to speak. And they can kind of help each other in those areas too, kind of energizes and invigorates kind of what’s going on in the classroom, gives people that new energy. And I think that’s when you’re together learning, and I love the teacher to teacher or the collaboration aspect of it. I think that can be really helpful within a group setting is gives a different set of energy and a different set of connection.
Our school recently, and we are an independent school, but we held an all-day professional development with another school in our area, probably about 30 minutes up the road. And together we came by, and so our history department teachers are talking with their history teachers, our English teachers with their English teachers, and we’re able to connect that way. That’s not using technology, but it is using that whole collaborative piece. You can do that, as I said, whether you’re an online school, whether you are two campuses in different states, I know some campuses who have sister schools in different countries and they’ll not only connect their students, but they’ll connect their teachers in those same ways. And that’s all through the use of technology.
Dr. Brittany Singleton (11:58):
So, you talked about collaboration a lot in your response, and you talked about partnering with teachers in other schools in the area as well. How do you specifically personalize professional development? What does that look like?
Dr. Joy Karavedas (12:10):
That’s a great question too because one of my strengths is building teams. That’s what I do here. That’s what I do is I bring people together. But again, then we run the risk of doing one size fits all development. And that’s okay if we’re teaching about a specific concept, not the best if you’re really trying to help grow and to do what individuals need. I think that one of the best ways to do that is looking at giving teachers and instructors a little bit of control over what they want out of professional development.
Most schools, I think, have some sort of a professional growth plan or a professional development plan where their teachers have a IDP, an individual development plan, that they set out goals each year, things of that nature. We have recently revamped some of that even to give them a little bit more control over what does that professional growth look like for you, and that might be a little more personalized and be able to use the individualize what they want to do.
And then they work with their department chair or maybe their assistant principal or some other director to guide that development and that director or department chair can act as a coach into that role. I think mentorship is huge, especially for new teachers and bringing those two people together to sometimes say, “Here, you’re in year two, what do you want to learn?” And they’re like, “I want to learn it all. I don’t know everything yet.” So partnering that person with somebody who maybe is in year 10 is actually can be really great about just having somebody to connect with to individualize what those needs are and help people to sometimes verbalize what they want. Sometimes we don’t know what we want. And so when you can see and work with other people, I think that can be huge.
Dr. Brittany Singleton (14:07):
I completely agree with that. As a former administrator, I was always faced with the challenge of presenting those professional development opportunities to the educators in my building, but they always wanted to know, what am I going to get out of this? So how do you incentivize, measure and reward educators for their personalized learning time and progress?
Dr. Joy Karavedas (14:27):
I agree that time and money are always a good reward. People are going to say, “Well, do I get release time? Am I going to get extra pay on this? Is there a stipend for attending this? Are you paying for my conference?” And that’s all true. And I think to a large extent, some of that is a indicative of the burnout and things that teachers are feeling. You’re going to ask me to add another thing onto this. “What’s in it for me?” But I think at heart, our teachers are professionals and teachers go into this because they want to do well. They love those children that are in front of them of all ages, from kindergartners to adult learners. That they’re in it for a reason and they want to do their best for those students. They feel that as a need and a calling to some extent.
So, I think if we can provide individualized professional development that, again, that is teacher may have had a role in discovering and enroll in planning and enroll in saying, “This is what I want.” They’re going to embrace that. Yes, they’ll probably still need to give them a little release time or maybe incentivize it a little bit. That’s just the right thing to do. But I think to increase the inward motivation, it’s going to have to be something that as administrators, and I put myself in this role, we’re not forcing them into or giving them because we think that it’s great. But asking them to take a part in what is it that you want that will make you better, that you will be able to bring to your classroom setting. Or we haven’t even really talked about how we lead teachers and how we develop our teachers into more leaders within and outside of the classroom too. And I think we can, that’s a role in professional development we haven’t really hit on good enough.
Dr. Brittany Singleton (16:20):
So, we’ve talked about the incorporation of technology. We talked about personalization of professional development, incentivization for professional development. My next question to you is how do you design authentic professional development that incorporates practice, reflection and feedback?
Dr. Joy Karavedas (16:36):
We have the plan, teach, assess, reflect, cycle in education. Most of us know that plan, teach, assess, reflect. I think you can use that for PD or professional development. If we plan professional development that’s both planned with the individual in mind who we’re delivering it to, rather than teach, we deliver it. Assess was it work worth worthwhile? Did people get back? Ask them, was this valuable? If not, why not? And then reflect on that. I think I’m going to, some schools, not all schools, and I’ll put myself in this as having been a school administrator for a long time in many different settings. There are sometimes we offer PD because we think we’re supposed to do it, and it checks a box, whether given to us by the district, given to us by others. We’re loading in a new curriculum and so we know we have to do it.
So, it checks a box. But I think, and there’s a place for that. I’m not saying it’s wrong, there is a place for that. But if we can plan and take time to really plan and then deliver, assess and reflect on what the professional development we’re giving to our teachers, how are we using those professional development days? Are they utilized best ways to bring people together to ensure their growth inside and outside of the classroom. I think we need to be a little more reflective. And I think that needs to start in the higher offices, in the administrative offices, quite frankly.
Dr. Brittany Singleton (18:06):
So, we’ve talked about the key components of professional development and things that we would need to make sure that the educators receive exactly what they need to be successful as far as that aspect goes. Let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about culture in leadership. How do you create a school culture and climate that values educators as professionals? Because we know they always want to feel valued in addition to receiving the resource they need. How do you make them feel valued and create their culture and climate?
Dr. Joy Karavedas (18:35):
This is the topic near and dear to my heart. This is where I love to live, is that creating culture and an idea of leadership. I don’t know how this kind of came about, but I’ve been in education a very long time in a lot of settings. And then we have this idea of us versus them. You’re one of them, you’re admin and you’re, and then we have us, teachers and we have this divide. I had recently somebody said to me, “Well, aren’t you one of them?” When we were having a conversation, I thought, I don’t know. Who are them? And so I think that we need to figure out a way to blur that line a little bit. Most of our leaders were once teachers, they should have a great understanding of what’s going on in that classroom. And if we can build our leaders to understand that’s their job, is to lead and create culture and to remember what it was like to be in the classroom and remember what it’s like to lead people.
Speaking for California, I know when you’re looking at your administrative credentials and your PAs and CAS credentials, you’re going to get a lot of education about managing schools, assessing the learning outcomes. You’re going to get, how do we lead school student services, build programs? A lot of that focus. You’re not going to get a lot of conversation about leading people, and they assume that that’s something that is going to come naturally but I can tell you it doesn’t. My entire doctoral dissertation was based on how do we provide development of those who are in these mid-level leaderships before they get into leadership so they can develop those skills that are needed to lead people about self-awareness, communication.
How do we coach others and mentor? How do you actually serve in that role? And I think if we can work with our leaders to develop them in those roles, they know the school stuff. They’ve been educated on the school stuff. I think it’s developing them to know the people, the human side of leadership and getting a greater understanding of that. Then I think will see culture shift because I think people naturally want to go there. Everybody’s a little stressed out right now. I don’t know why. Everybody’s just a little stressed out right now. A lot going on in education.
Dr. Brittany Singleton (21:03):
Do you have any final thoughts on professional development and its importance within education that you’d like to share with our audience?
Dr. Joy Karavedas (21:09):
Thank you. I truly believe education changes lives. I am one of those people from the very beginning. I think it’s going to make the largest difference in an individual’s life is their experience with education and what that looks like. Everybody can name those two or three teachers that had a positive impact on their life and changed them with just a few words or a few thoughts or ideas. We also probably can name a couple of teachers who had a negative impact on our life. So the importance of education and the importance of development in our teachers, I cannot stress enough.
I think as administrators and leaders, we need to challenge ourselves to lead that development of our teachers so that they can do their role and impact and influence the young lives that they’re leading. We hire people to be teachers, but then we move them into our leadership roles to continue to look at strategy and on district goals and things like that. I think that if we can remember to also, those are important things, but also include the human elements and the ideas of how do we prioritize people? How do we prioritize individuals so our assistant principals are getting that training as well? And our assistant principals are not only focusing on disciplines and support and tardies and all the other things, but they’re also able to take, they are being developed to work with our individual teachers. I think that’s the way we’re going to, it’s going to start top down.
Education’s very hierarchical, all the way up, and we’re going to have to lead and model and provide that mentorship to others so that that’s the only way that you’re going to be able to change culture. And it takes time but there are schools out there, there are leaders out there who are doing it phenomenally well. We read stories about them all the time. Let’s highlight them and let’s talk about that and learn from them. I think that’s where we’re going to start seeing changes and start embracing that when we start seeing people get excited and energized again about their profession.
Dr. Brittany Singleton (23:33):
Thank you so much, Dr. Karavedas for your insight and your thought leadership that you, work that you’re doing within the education realm. It’s been such a pleasure to have you today on Teach and Learn, and thank you again for joining us.
Dr. Joy Karavedas (23:44):
Well, thank you, Dr. Singleton. It’s been great to be here. Keep doing the great works that you’re doing over there. Thank you.
Dr. Cristi Ford (23:55):
You’ve been listening to Teach and Learn a podcast for curious educators. This episode was produced by D2L, a global learning innovation company, helping organizations reshape the future of education and work. To learn more about our solutions for both K-20 and corporate institutions, please visit www.d2l.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. And remember to hit that subscribe button so you can stay up to date with all new episodes. Thanks for joining us, and until next time, school’s out.