[ Back to Stories ]

March 24, 2022

Professional Development: Trending in the Right Direction with 2gnoMe

By Jason Schmidt 
Executive Director at Wisconsin Virtual School

The single most important aspect of any classroom is an effective teacher. Unfortunately, over the past few years we’ve seen a trend of excellent and experienced teachers leaving the field. Feeling unsupported by administrators should not be one of the reasons they leave, nor should being overwhelmed by the expectations of a professional development that doesn’t meet their needs.

As someone who has been responsible for teachers’ professional development for quite some time, I have a vested interest in taking the guesswork out of it. For most districts, professional development is prescribed, with little flexibility, and the material is not always applicable. Across the country, we are waking up to the fact that one size fits all professional development won’t cut it any longer. We need to cater professional development to as many people as possible in a way that translates to more efficient, effective, and confident teachers.

The good news is that there is a platform that works for the way education is trending. At Wisconsin Virtual School, we launched with 2gnoMe earlier this year, and it has already exceeded our expectations. It not only incentivizes teachers to participate, it provides them with the targeted resources that they need, and at the same time recognizes the importance of community.

Surprisingly personal

Administrators know that personalizing professional development is more impactful. However, personalizing at scale is problematic. Even with the best curriculum development and specialists, managing the process, tracking progress (individually and district wide), and creating a wide ranging personal experience is nearly impossible. 

With 2gnoMe, we can go deeper and wider without hiring outside help. We can leverage the expertise of teachers within our system and connect them with others who can utilize that experience. The answer is in being able to self-evaluate in a way that personalizes what teachers want and need with data to back up the choices they’re making. 

It starts with an assessment and built in curated resources, so development can begin immediately as resources are already available. We can then use these personal assessments and data to inform future professional learning. The process is personalized, but also contains layers of visibility. We can see specific data, but certain parts are anonymized, so that the process becomes collaborative rather than adversarial. Teachers feel free to be honest and never feel that their answers will impact their overall evaluation.

As well, the platform addresses the manner in which adults learn. It gives teachers agency over choice and control over pace and location. It takes everything that goes along with good instructional practices and applies this to professional learning. Teachers need respect, and it can only elevate the profession by trusting teachers to make appropriate decisions about their learning. 

The more effective a teacher, the more impact they’ll have on their students. We can meet their needs with time to live their lives.

Surprisingly comprehensive

Historically, Professional Development has not taken place on an equal playing field. There’s no reason because a teacher is remote or part time that they shouldn’t have access to high quality resources. 

Through this platform, educators will have the same access to curated material. Sites like YouTube can be hugely useful, but also overwhelming. Videos with the most views don’t necessarily have the best or most accurate information. The curation of materials assures resources are aligned with the standards and reinforces what we want teachers to know. 

Not only does the site have a clearinghouse of resources curated by educational leaders, clients have the ability to incorporate their own resources. At WVS, we’ve added over one hundred of our own resources. In addition, a portal allows teachers to submit their own recommendations for review so that the program can continue to grow. These resources can be easily incorporated into our catalogue, tagged to the standards that are important to us, and then shared.

With 2gnoMe, there is more focus on what’s effective. It allows us to use assessment data to back up choices and create opportunities to form Professional Learning Communities around national standards. This supports the social and community aspects of professional development that we don’t want to lose. For example, the teachers we’ve learned need assistance with personal engagement can be partnered with those assessed as “rock stars” in personal engagement.

As time goes on, we can reassess and gather new data points. With better, more accurate  tracking follow-up is assured. Teachers can go back into the platform and either reinforce what they’ve learned or learn something new. 

Surprisingly better

2gnoMe focuses on human development. It mirrors many of the best practices we have pinpointed through decades of study. It takes the guesswork out of it and creates a continuum of learning for educators.

For an online platform, it is far more flexible than one might think. The tools are simple enough so that less tech savvy teachers will not be intimidated. 

Administrators will also appreciate how 2gnoMe forms relationships with their clients. It is structured onboarding, so that there is support before and after launching. They will inform you how to work with data and how to customize the experience. 

I believe 2gnoMe is the future of professional development, a professional development that leaves no educator behind.