Actionable insights from district leaders to try at your schools.
This year was full of challenges, but challenges always present an opportunity to improve and grow! We recently spoke with three district leaders about their experiences this year—the challenges, the successes, and the lessons learned that can be carried back into the classroom next year.
Here are some of their actionable insights, along with additional resources you can try this summer and fall at your school or district.
Technology implementation went into overdrive this past year.
Kelly Watts, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction and Leadership at Cabell County Schools in West Virginia, shared that the pandemic accelerated her district’s technology plans. “We had been moving towards 1:1, but we were not there yet. When COVID hit, we immediately went to a remote learning model, which jump-started our total integration of technology. We were really able to move into technology innovation that we wouldn’t have at any other time.”
Technology can be a powerful tool for teaching and learning, so let’s continue to integrate it into our practice when we’re back onsite!
Try these technology integration ideas:
(More ideas from Edutopia)
Remote learning forced us to rethink assessment and be more creative around how we asked students to show their learning.
Edward Dunn, Supervisor of Curriculum Support for Mathematics at William Penn School District in Pennsylvania, reflected on the focus on process over product. He states that teachers were challenged this year to ask, “what does [formative assessment] look like virtually because we can't just walk behind this kid and see that they have an answer incorrect or correct. And I think what that's going to do for us long-term is the understanding that assessment is much bigger than that. Can we learn from students’ processes as much as we learn from the products that they create?”
Try these formative assessment methods:
Teachers learned all sorts of new engaging strategies last year! As Ms. Watts said, “Teachers are rockstars. They figured it out. They had creative risk-taking and students were engaged.”
Try these engagement strategies:
This year, students got new opportunities for individualized learning like never before.
Dr. Gentile explained that at her district, Wednesdays were asynchronous, meaning students had a self-paced day of learning and could attend office hours for targeted support. On Wednesdays, “students were able to do personalized, 1-on-1, individualized learning. They could work at their own pace on things, work on projects, and get extra help from the teacher. So many good things came out of that day. I hope those things will be able to continue.”
Try these individualized learning methods:
Dr. Gentile and Mr. Dunn both shared that asynchronous learning days gave their faculty dedicated time to receive weekly professional development. Plus, technology enabled even more collaboration.
Mr. Dunn reflected, “Fridays have evolved into a lot of common planning time, great group meetings, and collaboration. What usually happens is teachers in each grade band at each school collaborate amongst themselves, but now, with the competency around Zoom, Google Docs, and all these tools, we've been able to help professionally develop grade groups across the district, where those opportunities weren't available before.”
Ms. Watts added, “Our teachers actually took more ownership of the type of professional development that they needed.”
Try these professional development support strategies:
As Mr. Dunn shared, “We don’t want to get back to normal. We want to get to new.” Bringing these new strategies and tools into the physical classroom can only strengthen and optimize the learning experience for our students. Looking forward to a great year!
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We don’t want to get back to normal. We want to get to new.
Edward Dunn, Supervisor of Curriculum Support for Mathematics, William Penn School District