Wayne Township Schools: Districtwide Professional Learning with edWeb
Wayne Township Public Schools in Passaic County, NJ has recently been recognized as one of the best school districts in America to teach and learn. The Wayne Township Learning Center (WTLC), established in 2014, is a testament to the district’s commitment to high-quality professional development for its educators.
In a recent edWeb.net Coffee Chat, Tracy Leigh and Katie Licwinko, Education Technology Coordinators, discussed how virtual professional development has transformed learning for all staff in their district.
From 2014 to 2020, the WTLC held in-person professional development sessions led by district administrators and teacher leaders and provided opportunities for staff and teachers to collaborate and share ideas on topics. The center hosted 10 to 15 high-quality workshops per school year with guest presenters including Kimberly Harrington, the former chief academic officer at the NJDOE, and Steve Hazeman and Dave Meara, lead engineers with Apple.
When the pandemic hit and impacted in-person schools, the district shifted to virtual PD sessions on Zoom and Google Meet for significant district technology workshops. They also built a WTLC Google Site to house all the virtual PD workshop recordings.
Until May 2021, Leigh was a one-person team with professional development training responsibilities for 15 schools within the district. When Licwinko joined her team, the center expanded its professional development opportunities and implemented a hybrid professional development model throughout the 2021-2022 school year.
Unfortunately, like many districts this past winter, the district experienced a substitute shortage resulting in difficulty offering large group workshops at the WTLC. However, an anytime, anywhere learning solution was discovered when Assistant Superintendent Donna Reichman introduced the WTLC to edWeb.net.
This award-winning professional learning network makes it easy to collaborate, engage in peer-to-peer learning, and share innovative ideas and resources. According to Leigh, “We were so excited about the possibilities of edWeb, so we could not wait to roll it out to our teachers and staff. So just like coffee, PD can be served in numerous ways.”
Using edWeb’s live and on-demand edWebinars, teachers in Wayne Township Public Schools can attend or watch virtual professional development sessions curated by the WTLC team. One of the critical points the WTLC team emphasized to teachers was the variety of options that they had for professional learning, including the abilities to interact within the comments during the live sessions and to search through and review the past archived edWebinars that were timely and related to their roles.
Using edWeb’s Best Practices for Virtual Professional Learning, teachers had the autonomy to select their PD, including customization and the ability to choose topics of interest. The WTLC also built several edWeb online communities specific to Wayne teachers, including a professional learning community to share district goals and initiative resources and a technology community for sharing technology tools, updates, and different resources with teachers. The teachers also had the option to join other communities with edWeb to connect and collaborate with other teachers worldwide.
In the fall, the WTLC plans to provide teachers with choices through edWeb for some of their mandatory professional development days. According to the presenters, teachers are excited about that and are reviewing how they can track their attendance in live edWebinars or the views of their on-demand edWebinars through the transcript section of their edWeb.net account.
“The classroom has become a lonely place for so many people, and the edWeb.net PD initiative is inspiring opportunities for our teachers to start taking part in the conversation and working together again,” said Reichman.
Melissa Hodgson, Manager of Member Services for edWeb, stated, “It is a testament to what happens when a district prioritizes professional learning and no surprise that that’s why Wayne Township Public Schools has the award for being one of the best places to teach because you are giving the support that the teachers need.”