Educators worldwide attend UCBPDP workshops

Free Professional Development for Educators

Sometimes they are logging in after a full day of teaching, having had to navigate a new online teaching platform, double-check security measures to prevent unwanted guests, or host online meetings with parents concerned about their child’s education.

Others are waking up early, logging in at 6:30 a.m. before their school day begins. While others still are staying up until 1:30 a.m. in order to participate in the free professional development opportunities for pre-service and in-service K-16 educators being offered by the UC Berkeley Professional Development Providers (UCBPDP).

Nearly 2,000 educators and school leaders from around the world – 29 states plus Vietnam, Chile, Serbia, Australia, and Albania – have logged in during the late afternoon Pacific time since the UCBPDP ramped up its workshop offerings in late March.

No matter the time of day or location around the world, it is apparent that the UCBPDP, a collaborative partnership founded in 2017 with its mission of partnering directly with teachers, counselors, instructional leaders, and administrators to bridge K-16 communities of research and practice, is now more important than ever.

Monday through Friday there is a specific topic led by an expert in the field, such as “Prioritizing Evidence-Based Actions to Address Equity Problems of Practice,” and “Ask an Expert: Covid19 Informational Session for Educators.” Materials and resources from previous workshops are available online.

Topics for the workshops are in response to inquiries from educators at all levels, from preK to higher education, who are looking for resources as they find themselves teaching and providing services in the unfamiliar space of online learning.

“That was the best PD EVER,” one participant said in response to a session titled, “Global Views on COVID 19: Lessons from the 1918 Flu Pandemic in India and Indonesia.”

“Can't wait to adapt this for my students down here in Australia while we temporarily learn online!” said another.

The workshops are generally facilitated in the late afternoon Pacific time, allowing educators to participate, contribute and take advantage of this opportunity to learn and share their expertise with colleagues. The workshops offer concrete tools and practical resources that participants can use immediately.

“I'm on my district's equity committee and I feel like a lot of times we just kind of talk about these (equity) issues, but it's really nice to have a structure to look at what are the things that create (equity issues),” a middle school leader from a San Francisco Bay Area school district wrote during a workshop feedback session. “Once we can identify the roots of the problem, then we can start looking at solutions or ideas. These structures were really helpful. So thank you for that.”

The value of the workshops and the high level of participation can be attributed to the high quality collaboration and nimbleness of the 14 professional development partners, who are developing the workshops explicitly for educators, and in response to educators’ expressed need, said Dr. Tameka McGlawn, executive director of the GSE’s College & Career Academy Support Network (CCASN).

“Some districts are having challenges because they’re being bombarded with a range of instructional online platforms to use, while others already have systems in place, yet need to build capacity for educators to use them effectively with students. Many are challenged by both.

“We are revisiting our workshop topics in an iterative way due to shifting priorities and our collective desire to be responsive to educators, who are closest to the students who are furthest from opportunity. We’re mindful that for many educators, online learning is a whole new world and in these unprecedented times responding to their realtime needs is of the utmost importance,” McGlawn said.

One of the popular regularly scheduled events is the Interdisciplinary Faculty Lounge held every Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. Pacific time. The informal gathering is designed to be a time of inspiration, for educators to share resources, fellowship, trade ideas, share successes, and even brainstorm as a community the difficult issues many are faced with during this time.

The Lounge and workshops draw a breadth of education professionals, from preK-12 teachers, to district educational services administrators, school counselors, and paraprofessionals, to school site leaders, and even higher education faculty. A recurring theme for many participants, no matter their role in schools or where they live, is the need for resources on how to manage a new way of teaching and learning virtually, coupled with their own personal situation of sheltering-in-place.

"It helps to have all of this knowledge to try to understand what is happening,” one particpant wrote. “And it just reinforces the need for excellent public education, whether it be about health or history or both, or everything."

The UC Berkeley Professional Development Providers is a partnership of 14 professional learning units at Berkeley. Our collective aim is to support lifelong learning for educators throughout their careers, bridging K-16 communities of research and practice. Follow us on Twitter @UCBPDP.

Bay Area Mathematics Project (BAMP)
Bay Area Science Project (BASP)
Bay Area Writing Project (BAWP)
Berkeley World Language Project (BWLP)
Cal Performances Classroom
California Reading & Literature Project (CRLP)
Center for Cities + Schools (CC+S)
College & Career Academy Support Network (CCASN)
Hearst Anthropology Museum
Lawrence Hall of Science
Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP)—Young Worker Project
Office of Resources of International and Area Studies (ORIAS)
Principal Leadership Institute (PLI)
UC Berkeley History Social Sciences Project (UCBHSSP)