Practical Professional Development Can Help Educators Reach “That” Student

Andy Kalahanis, M.Ed

As we celebrate Digital Learning Day—and great teaching practices that are powered by digital resources—I proudly reflect on the digital professional development activities that have been instrumental in helping me refine my “edutainment” approach to teaching.

Have you ever wondered how to reach “that” student who may need a teacher’s help the most? Just as there are different types of learners, the instructional styles of teachers may vary in their ability to engage and inspire individual students. My personality leads me to be an engaging teacher, primarily to reach “that” student. In 2010, my journey brought me to Commonwealth Connections Academy, a tuition-free public cyber school for students in grades kindergarten through 12 in Pennsylvania, where teachers are challenged to bring their talents and enthusiasm into a full-time online learning environment. All students attend school from home (or anywhere there is an Internet connection) and educators are faced with engaging students online and on the phone.

My growth as a teacher has largely been noting the activities that worked or did not work based on my students’ reactions. Fortunately, my teacher colleagues and I also have opportunities to learn digitally—and translate our knowledge into the classroom to increase student learning. We participate in online professional development sessions provided by Commonwealth Connections Academy, through the support of Connections Education, which offer practical techniques that I use to engage my online classroom. For example, one professional development session entitled, “Are My Students Learning?” inspired me to offer my 9th grade English students five different ways to display their knowledge on Romeo and Juliet.

In celebration of Digital Learning Day, I am truly thankful for the culture of support, sharing, and training that has helped me become a better teacher in order to serve students. Professional development activities have helped me make the online learning experience for students exactly that, an experience!

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 9.51.48 AMAndy Kalahanis, M.Ed is a 9th grade English teacher at Commonwealth Connections Academy.




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1 Comment


Excellent teacher, Excellent Work, Excellent School!!

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