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Traverse City Area Public Schools
Evan Obranovic, Director of Technology, Traverse City Area Public Schools
So, the question became, “How do we teach our teachers how to teach remotely?” As much as I wish I could claim credit for pioneering the idea of cohorting and micro-PD a quick Google search will reveal that the idea has been floating out there for quite some time as an attempt to change professional development for the better but seemed to explode on to the scene when the stakes were at their highest amid the pandemic.
There we were with a powerful LMS, 1:1 student devices, teachers taking as much equipment as they could manage to stuff their home offices with and the biggest missing piece was how we can train them to use these things from a distance. We needed teachers to know how to use the LMS inside and out so partnering with our curriculum team we developed badges and levels of competency that a staff stakeholder group agreed would move the needle in effective usage and helpful training.
The positive feedback from our staff regarding the ability to gain new knowledge and apply it to their teaching has been overwhelming
Our Edtech team led the way in learning our LMS and then created a course that contained all the badging info and resources to train teachers on how to use what they had and earn the leveled badges which our district tied to financial incentives to honor the time spent. Then they offered to lead various cohorts throughout the year to coach groups of teachers through the course and be all but guaranteed to earn all the badges offered and apply that knowledge directly to their courses. Seems painfully simple on paper, but the number of hours needed, and new thinking accepted to fully embrace these methods is no easy task.
Now that we have embraced these models, I don’t see us ever going back. The positive feedback from our staff regarding the ability to gain new knowledge and apply it to their teaching has been overwhelming. We have evolved at a rapid rate due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that includes how we do professional development. Take this as your cue to evolve yourselves and your organization and make life-long learning attainable and enjoyable!.