Best Practices from NACEP Accredited Programs-Content Based PD
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My name is Dr. Lori Mueller, and I am an instructor in the Harrison College of Business & Computing at Southeast Missouri State University. I teach our Introduction to Computer Applications course, and I am the faculty liaison for this course for our K-12 partner teachers. I have worked at Southeast since 1998 in a variety of capacities; I have been teaching this course and working with our Early College Programs personnel since Fall 2013.
Southeast is a public, regional, comprehensive liberal arts institution in the “bootheel” of Missouri. For academic year 2021-2022, we had a total enrollment of 9,851 (8,629 undergraduates and 1,222 graduate students). Our Early College Programs work with about 50 schools in our service region, reaching about 1,400 students each semester.
As part of my role as liaison, I provide professional development (PD) opportunities for our partner teachers. Initially, this was somewhat of a struggle for me. We usually met with our partner teachers as a group twice a year (fall and spring). In between, I met with them individually for site visits, or had contact with them when they needed my input. For my course, I work with teachers in seven schools in our region, spanning about 160 miles. Our main campus, located in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, is almost equidistant between my farthest schools served.
Part of the challenge of offering content-based PD is that our course has a very specific focus. We help students learn and build their skills in using the Microsoft Office suite of applications, focusing on Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint. There may be an abundance of articles and other resources available when a new version of Office is being released, but once you know what the new features will be, there is not a lot to go on in terms of content. Also, with my partner schools being spread out around our region and limited times when we all met in person, I found the timing challenging – if I found something applicable to our course, did I hold on to it so I would have something to share at one of our semester meetings, or should I try to get it to them faster?
For all of the many obstacles and challenges wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ways we were forced to adjust how we interacted with each other made some aspects a little easier. Since everyone is now familiar with Zoom, we can meet when needed without having to factor in drive time, mileage costs, finding substitute teachers, etc. Additionally, many PD opportunities that might have traditionally only been available in person now have virtual options.
I also expanded the scope of what I share in terms of PD. I realize that not every opportunity has to focus on our specific content – I can share information about pedagogy, personal development, campus policies/procedures, or other topics.
My primary means of sharing PD information with my partner teachers is through a “class” I created in our learning management system (currently Canvas; I think this could be adapted for any LMS, or implemented using Google Drive or anything cloud-based). I use the Canvas course page to provide resources and information in a variety of categories:
- NACEP (e.g., link to website, link to accreditation standards)
- Our Early College Programs office (e.g., link to website, links to template forms and checklists)
- Course-specific information (e.g., links to our template syllabus and curriculum materials; links to University tools and policies, like our academic honesty policy and LMS resources; links to resources for students; links to assessments I have developed to help ensure common content coverage and rigor; etc.).
On this Canvas course page, I also have a section dedicated to PD opportunities. Some of the options include:
- Earning Microsoft Office Specialist certifications in the applications we teach;
- Participating in webinars or seminars (e.g., NACEP’s offerings; publisher-specific offerings; faculty training offered by the University’s Center for Teaching & Learning; sessions I suggest to them; sessions they find on their own and share with the group);
- Reading and commenting on articles (again, things I find and share with them, or things they read on their own);
- Other PD activities (e.g., conferences where they present; papers they publish; etc.).
Our partner teachers have commented that there are enough different opportunities and different formats for participation that they are able to complete our requirements. In terms of recording participation, our Early College Programs office has a standardized form for reporting PD completed by our partners. I collect documentation from our teachers through the Canvas page or email (e.g., certificates of attendance, conference programs listing their presentations, or other tangible evidence; discussion forums in Canvas where they can share their impressions and “take-aways” from webinars or articles), then attach the documentation to the form and submit everything to Early College Programs for their files.
I hope something I have shared here will spark ideas of ways you can communicate PD options to your partner teachers, regardless of your content area or the specifics of your program. If you would like more information about any of my tools or methods, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I am happy to share!
 Southeast Missouri State University. (2022). 2021-2022 Fact Book. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://semo.edu/institutional-research/_pdfs/factbook-2021-22-final1.pdf
 Southeast Missouri State University. (2022, August 16). Early College Programs Administrative Policy and Procedure Guide. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://semo.edu/academics/early-college/_pdfs/early-college-handbook.pdf