The Impact of Professional Development in CTE
I recently attended the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) conference, and I can tell you that it did not disappoint!
Having only been to the FLVS In-Service Training Days, I was not entirely sure what to expect. After sitting through the first general session, I knew what I was going to get: several days of highly-informative exhibits and sessions presented by enthusiastic Career and Technical Education (CTE) instructors.
The conference had plenty of specialized vendor exhibits and interesting conference speakers. And the sessions – there were so many from which to choose!
I had my pick of a number of high-interest topics dealing with general CTE classroom strategies, resources that were specific to computer and tech courses, and sessions on policies affecting the future of CTE education. It was quite overwhelming – it took me a while to sort through all the options to find the perfect ones to attend.
There were two sessions that stood out, mostly because the presentations were so unique and effective. I attended a talk on applying critical thinking skills in the CTE classroom. It was one of the most interactive, challenging, and just plain fun sessions I have ever attended at any conference. The idea was simple, but the presentation was unique, as it explored novel ways to apply critical thinking skills to CTE courses that would encourage collaboration, interaction, research, and creativity. It was also a demonstration in the overwhelmingly competitive nature of teachers!
Another eye-opening session I attended was standing room only – and the doorways were stuffed, as well! The topic: flipped classrooms in CTE. The presentation was excellent, as it offered multiple points of view on the topic, with plenty of Q and A time.
I take pride in the fact that FLVS is among the leaders in online education, and while at the conference I looked for new ideas that would help me extend that edge. I framed every exhibiter booth I visited, every session I attended, and every speaker I heard in terms of how FLVS could apply that given concept. But what I quickly noticed was that, in many areas, FLVS has already proven itself to be a leader in CTE education.
Take the critical thinking session, for example. It just so happens that a week earlier I attended an online meeting where FLVS Full Time instructors presented a similar professional development session that explored the same critical thinking skills through the idea of Escape Room live lessons. And the flipped classroom concept? Again, FLVS had that covered. The FLVS Full Time program has presented this idea at preplanning meetings for at least two years! When the instructors visiting these sessions brought up possible technical problems that these ideas could create, I could only think about how our FLVS Full Time instructors had already found ways around them. Advantage: Florida Virtual School!
While it was exciting to realize that our teachers are keeping up with – or even ahead of – our peers in the traditional CTE classroom, the conference revealed that there is always room for improvement. As I attended several other meetings throughout the conference, I heard great ideas and strategies regarding CTE that I knew were missing from FLVS. I left these sessions asking the same questions: Were the ideas presented in these sessions something we can apply at FLVS?
How can we include these strategies to ensure that FLVS continues to be seen as a leader in CTE education?
I left the conference invigorated and started to think of ways I could apply these practices into my own CTE classroom. As a CTE teacher, I am committed to professional development to ensure that I am able to provide my students with the skills and education they need in order to thrive once they enter into college or a career.
View the Career and Technical Education certification courses and programs of study at FLVS to learn more about some of our CTE opportunities for students.
Post by Jason Torres, FLVS Full Time Career & Technical Education Instructor