Tuesday, September 20, 2016

What's the Deal with All These Trainings?

State-mandated trainings have been around for many years. The good idea of a few required training activities has now mushroomed into training on dozens of topics. As Mr. Grimm discussed at Lombard Middle School on Opening Day, it is becoming a nightmare of legal requirements that are handed down to us all by the state of Illinois.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has collaborated with the Illinois Principals Association (IPA) to bring EdLeaders Network (ELN) directly to all staff working in Illinois schools free of charge starting this school year. Members of IPA have had access to ELN for a couple of years, and many of our own principals have been using ELN videos to deliver this training during staff meetings. We learned that ELN would be available to us during the 2016-2017 school year back in April or May, and I communicated that out to staff through one of my Tech & PD Update emails. All we knew at that time was that the service would be available and free during the upcoming school year. The ability to document who had completed what - which is part of the compliance audits I mentioned August 15 - was unveiled quite by surprise at a meeting of our regions principals and superintendents in Monmouth on August 3 by the provider.

I've been looking into services like these for several years. There are some free services that are largely intended for municipal workers, etc, not teachers. Some school districts pay for services that deliver similar education-oriented trainings virtually, and a few of those I’ve spoken with or heard of simply provide a list of requirements to staff and instruct them to knock it out during the last 2 weeks of summer, during  the first 2 weeks of school, etc. Summertime might be fine for many to complete these trainings, but doing so during planning times or early release days - when staff are on the clock anyway - might be more palatable to some.
School districts cannot opt-out of delivering mandated training.  Using a service like ELN, which is both free and one of the highest quality services I’ve found so far, allows us to pursue the long term goals of providing classroom staff increased flexibility to do what’s best for kids, supporting principals in focusing staff meeting times for other important school-related activities, all while remaining in compliance with state and federal mandates.  

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