- Howard County Public Schools (MD) digital learning, innovation, and design resources teacher Crystal Marshall-Krauss details for EdSurge how she adapted the subscription box concept to personalize professional development in her district with the “Happy Apples: Out of the Box Professional Learning” concept.
- The boxes are designed to create greater interest in professional learning and use surveys of basic information and interests to provide suggested articles, Twitter accounts, podcasts, activity checklists and books targeted for the individual, as well as resources such as journals, pens, thank you notes and student incentives.
- The challenges for the project are human capital and budget for materials, though these issues may be solved through community partnerships.
The importance of professional development for educators is universally acknowledged. However, the fact that these opportunities are often considered boring due to their tendency to take a one-size-fits-all, sit-and-get approach is almost as universally acknowledged. Teachers need to feel that professional development is worth their time and tailored to their needs, necessitating ongoing efforts to personalize professional development.
While the idea of subscription boxes is appealing, it may not be sustainable across a district. However, it seems to be a great idea in a more localized setting, such as within a school or as a way for mentors or supervisors to stay connected with teachers. If a modest budget for this effort could be provided out of professional development funds, it seems an effective way to boost engagement among educators.
The idea could also be floated to community partners who may be willing to contribute items. School volunteers may be enlisted to put together boxes a few times a year. The idea may also be adapted to encourage attendance at professional development sessions. Everyone likes a box filled with surprises that can support their goals. And happy teachers are more likely to stay where they are needed.