Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Teacher Tip: Retaining Evidence of PD Credits & Activities

Received a question from one of our colleagues this week. To paraphrase:

How do we provide evidence of attendance at a PD events if we’re audited?

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This is a GREAT question! In Illinois, it is the responsibility of the license-holder to retain evidence of attendance at any professional development activity. Such evidence would include agendas, handouts, etc. IN ADDITION, educators must also make sure they sign in and complete an evaluation of the activity. The educator must retain the PD Credit Evidence Form provided to them by the PD Provider, and enter that information manually in their ELIS account. You can read more about these requirements on the ISBE Licensure website and the ISBE License Renewal website.  
In the past, keeping track of all that paper evidence usually required keeping a big folder or binder somewhere safe. (Personally, I used to use a big shoebox.) And yes, I have heard a number of very unfortunate stories about fire and water damage destroying this documentation.

Many providers, like our school district, are moving increasingly toward paperless distribution of PD documentation. Many teachers contact me after local PD events saying that their PD Evidence forms appear fine on screen but don’t seem to print out correctly, and so we wrestle with file formats and clearing browser caches and what-not until the image prints out correctly.    

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Fortunately, Google Drive offers an opportunity to make a positive change and protect ourselves from the unfortunate situations mentioned above.

First of all: ISBE WILL ACCEPT ELECTRONIC COPIES OF PD EVIDENCE! So really you can skip the step of printing things out.
Next, here’s what I do, if you're interested...

Personally, I haven’t used a flash drive or a physical file cabinet since 2013. I created a folder in Google Drive called “My PD,” and inside it I have a separate folder for every school year. When I attend a PD activity, I create a new folder inside the current school year folder in My PD, and then I just scan any paper evidence I collect and save it in its new folder. When the electronic PD Credit forms roll in through GMail, I save those in the corresponding folder, too.
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When there are multi-page or bound booklets, I do retain the hard copy and just scan in the cover of the booklet and the title page inside (if there is one). Then I know exactly what the front cover of the booklet looks like & can pull it off the shelf with relative ease.
So, if I’m audited when I renew this summer, all I’ll have to do is share the Google Drive folder with the auditor and let them do all the hard work! Easy-Peasy!
It does take some practice and  a bit of a leap-of-faith to go all-digital. However, this is also an easy way to get more comfortable working in a paperless environment and using Google Drive on a regular basis.   

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