This year, educators around the state are seeing normal PD schedules disrupted or challenged by COVID-19 restrictions. And many schools and districts are turning to remote PD for the first time.
Northwest ISD, a quickly growing district in Dallas-Fort Worth, has been using the Texas OnCourse Academy to provide virtual lessons to their college and career staff for the past couple of years. Here are some tips that they’ve utilized for implementing professional development along the way. Find more tips and tools like this in our new remote PD toolkit.
- Have a point person. Northwest ISD’s director of counseling took the lead on clear goals, structure, expectations, and systems for their district-wide educator development. Even if you don’t have a district director or coordinator of counseling, someone should serve in a management role – perhaps a lead counselor, your most-seasoned counselor, or someone familiar with the Academy already.
- Identify staff. In Northwest ISD, all counselors at the high school and middle school level completed Academy modules. New counselors completed all modules. Their eighth grade AVID and college and career readiness teachers completed relevant modules as well. Who would most benefit from one, some, or all Academy modules at your school or district?
- Define your training curriculum. Identifying your counseling staff’s full training expectations will help you set realistic goals for how broadly the Academy will fit into the whole picture. For Northwest ISD, Academy-enabled training on college and career advising was one-fifth of the curriculum pie.
- Overview of their district counseling program
- State-mandated trainings on bullying and other required topics
- Graduation requirements
- College and career readiness and advising, via Academy modules
- Map modules to months. Identify appropriate modules for each month, based on your counseling staff’s needs. For example, in September, Northwest ISD had their staff complete modules on Basic Principles of Financial Aid, FAFSA, TASFA, and CSS Profile. Lucky for you, we’ve done this hard work for you already! Download the remote PD toolkit and access calendars for middle and high school staff.
- Make it easy to access. Northwest ISD added a direct link to the Academy in their learning management system – in both their new counselor development portal and on their page for AVID and college and career readiness teachers. Do the same in your Google Classroom, Eduphoria, Canvas, or other platform. Or even do it on your school or district website. Need a logo or description? Just reply to this email with your request.
- Assess progress. Northwest ISD kept an eye on how their staff was progressing through the modules to serve for both accountability and motivation. As a result, they can report that half of their high school counselors and over a third of their middle school counselors earned all of the Academy badges. That’s something to be proud of! You can do the same by asking your counseling staff to send a screenshot of their badge, certificate, or completed module.
We hope these tips help you envision how the Academy can support your staff. Ready to start? Find more tips and resources in our remote PD toolkit! When you download, you also qualify for our free Navigating Remote PD Toolkit on May 21. And don't worry, if you can't make it or download the toolkit after that date, we'll send you the recording.