Northern Highlands Regional High School: Professional Learning with edWeb
Decaf. Cream. Sugar. No sugar. Iced or hot. If people are that particular about their coffee, imagine how they might feel about their professional learning, says Robin Knutelsky, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, and Human Resources for Northern Highlands Regional High School in New Jersey.
Just as she makes a point of finding out how her staff likes their coffee, she and her team have been getting to know how the educators and staff in her district want their professional learning. During a recent edWeb.net Coffee Chat, she explained how they developed a new set of professional learning goals and how they use edWeb to organize and personalize the offerings.
First, Knutelsky said as well as understanding student needs in a post-lockdown environment, changes in the district demographics, the growing diversity of the staff, and new state DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) mandates made them reevaluate their professional learning goals.
In addition, they had recently updated the science program so that all students take a lab science, which meant teachers needed to be able to differentiate the lessons at many levels. Finally, accounting for state and federal requirements, county initiatives, and NJDOE standards and requirements caused a lot of conflict and confusion.
Taking that information into account, they surveyed their teachers and staff to find out where they felt they had professional learning needs. Her team also met with district administration to get their perspective. Then, they narrowed down the professional learning needs to three buckets:
- Diversity, Equity, Inclusion
- Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners
- Interconnectedness (interdisciplinary learning, SEL, etc.)
Once they came up with these three overarching goals, they sent another survey to the staff to see which pathway they would potentially choose. The expectation from the beginning was that staff members would select their own goals instead of being forced to do all of them. The responses were evenly split among the three buckets, which let Knutelsky know that her team had done a good job of selecting pathways that met the diverse needs of their staff.
Once the pathways were set, Knutelsky looked for ways to make the information about the professional learning buckets easily accessible and provide everyone with options for their learning. That’s when she learned about edWeb.net. With edWeb, she was able to make an online community for her district, adding branding and information specific to their needs.
Through the community, she’s able to curate edWebinars and resources for her district and give staff access to a broader variety of opportunities if they have interests beyond the three pathways. She can also track who’s taken which edWebinars, and the teachers receive CE certificates to confirm participation.
For Knutelsky, edWeb’s ability to personalize professional learning is important, but so is the cost: none. With so many stressors on district budgets and the growing need for a large variety of professional learning opportunities, having a platform that doesn’t charge educators while allowing them to expand their skills makes edWeb a key partner on her district’s professional learning team.