District Model for Online Professional Learning: Spencerport School District
The Spencerport School District (NY) was looking for a professional learning solution for some of their teachers who can’t stay after hours for face-to-face PD because of family responsibilities. New York State requires that teachers earn 100 hours of professional learning in five years for their license renewal, and teachers were struggling to earn those hours. Spencerport wanted to find a solution that could help with the issue of equal access to high-quality professional learning to meet the needs of all of their teachers. Those PD needs coincided with the impact of COVID-19 pushing all learning to remote instruction in March 2020. Spencerport then needed a remote professional learning solution for all teachers for the remainder of the school year.
Lisa McCarthy, Director of Professional Learning, learned about edWeb.net through a Professional Development Committee meeting. edWeb.net provides a free online professional learning network that hosts edWebinars for educators from preK-12 (live and recorded) on a wide range of topics. edWeb.net is approved for New York Department of Education CTLE hours, so teachers could satisfy district PD requirements and earn their CTLE hours.
Spencerport created a private community on edWeb for all of their teachers so they could track their participation in the program. Teachers joined the free community and were then able to search the webinar recordings on a wide range of topics that aligned with district priorities:
- Social-Emotional Learning
- Culturally Responsive Teaching
- Blended Learning
- ELL/ESL Language Acquisition
- Mental Health/Behavior/Trauma
- Differentiation of Instruction
- Student-Centered Learning/Voice
- Classroom and Learning Spaces
- Health and Wellness
- Reading Skills
- Online Learning
- Technology for Learning
The edWeb team worked with Lisa McCarthy and her team to create a program for the spring that would meet their goals and also provide more choice for teachers in selecting what programs they viewed. Teachers were required to view one or two webinars per week based on their role within the district.
Lisa McCarthy commented, “As we developed the program, we learned about the importance of teacher choice and ownership in their own professional learning. Within the district priorities, there were so many programs to choose from, and teachers continued viewing more programs, even when it wasn’t required. edWeb provided a very positive experience for teachers. Teachers commented on how much they learned, and how they couldn’t wait to share what they learned with their students and colleagues.”
When the coronavirus arrived, edWeb had programs immediately on COVID-19 and switching to remote learning, and there was an added benefit for teachers’ assistants and nurses to watch programs, too.
Spencerport School District is looking ahead to summer and fall PD plans and is considering opening the program up to paraprofessionals as well, who aren’t included in all of the professional learning that teachers receive.
Lisa Schmucki, the founder of edWeb, commented, “We really appreciate the opportunity to work closely with Lisa McCarthy and her team to understand their needs, district priorities, and how we can make improvements in our platform.” Lisa McCarthy said it was a “great partnership.”
As we look ahead to the future, school districts will continue to need more remote learning and support options. edWeb provides a free professional networking platform and edWebinars on a wide range of preK-12 topics that teachers learn from, share, and enjoy. edWeb CE certificates for viewing edWebinars are accepted in most states.
edWeb provides peer-to-peer learning with experts, innovators, and colleagues that is immediate and current, with over 350 new edWebinars added each year. That is so important for professional learning and support today.