According to a CoSN report, more than half of school districts and about one-third of public schools in the United States are in rural areas. Rural communities have unique challenges, ranging from poverty and vast travel distances to a lack of affordable internet access.
The 2021 Driving K-12 Innovation report released by CoSN selected the most critical Hurdles (challenges), Accelerators (mega-trends), and Tech Enablers (tools) that school districts are facing with personalized learning, innovation, and digital equity. In a recent edWebinar, sponsored by ClassLink and co-hosted by CoSN and AASA, education leaders reflected on the challenges of the past year and the possibilities of the upcoming school year.
As a new principal at the Dunwoody Springs Elementary School, Fulton County Schools, GA, Ivy Goggins faced pockets of success in the building, a climate of teachers working in silos, and the lack of true collaboration. These are common challenges for many instructional leaders, teachers, and coaches, and Goggins sought to find a way to create a culture of mutual respect, cooperation, and equitable learning opportunities for her teachers and students. In CT3’s recent edWebinar, Goggins, her principal coach Joy Treadwell, Ph.D. from CT3, and Jim McVety, Managing Partner of First Step Advisors, delved into solutions to these challenges through the essential leadership skills that have the potential to impact the entire school community.
In May, when edWeb.net surveyed principals, personalized professional development for teachers was the number one topic of interest. With all the responsibilities and tasks on principals’ plates, relevant, engaging professional development focused on best practices can be extremely challenging. In a recent edWebinar, Dr. L Robert Furman, Principal of South Park Elementary Center in Pennsylvania, asked the question, “Why is it that when we think of professional development, it becomes a comedy or a depression and teachers automatically assume that it is going to be a colossal waste of time?” Personalized professional development can alleviate these feelings about professional development as it provides teachers with opportunities to be better teachers, which translates into improved student learning. Furman and the administrators in his school have completely revamped teacher professional development by utilizing the well-curated webinars and accessible and relevant resources available on edWeb.
In a 2018 survey, the majority of school districts either have 1:1 as a current goal or have already achieved it. Along with a 1:1 goal, comes the deluge of edtech tools, software, and applications into classrooms. School districts are struggling with the fact that 70% of purchased licenses for edtech programs don’t get used at all within the school year and only 10% of teachers know how often students should use edtech programs to drive learning outcomes. In a recent edWeb.net edWebinar, Jena Draper, Founder and General Manager of CatchOn; Mike Schwab, Education Team at Google; and Suzy Brooks, Instructional Technology Director for Mashpee Public Schools, MA, point out that in order to combat this deluge of technology, it is imperative that school districts address the tech usage data that impacts and drive success in classrooms. While it is believed that the barrier to district leaders and classroom teachers using more data is that they don’t have time to look at it, 33% of districts and teachers say the real challenge is that information is in too many places for them to access.
Teachers have many edtech resources in their toolbox now. The question is, are the teachers within a school, grade, or subject area accessing the same toolbox? More important, are the tools of equal quality? During the edWebinar, “Transform Learning: Track Results for Chromebooks, Google Suite, and Every Application,” presenters Kyle Berger, Chief Technology Officer at Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, TX, and Matthew X. Joseph, Ed.D., Director of Digital Learning and Innovation at Milford Public Schools, MA, talked about why they wrangled their technology and how having a defined edtech toolbox improved teaching and learning overall.
It’s an often-told story: the new principal comes to a school, opens the supply closet, and sees tons of notepads (or pencils or toner). When she looks at the supply order and asks why even more are being purchased despite the surplus, the reply is, “it’s the same order we make every year.” Unfortunately, that philosophy typically applies to school schedules as well. At the end of the school year, the previous master schedule is duplicated, teacher rosters are updated as needed, and no other changes are made regardless of changes in the student population. In addition to this practice being lazy, the presenters of the edWebinar, “Using Student-Centered Scheduling to Address Equity” said copying the same schedule year after year can lead to further segregating students and keeping low-performing ones from reaching their potential. While reworking the master schedule may not be the most exciting part of the principal’s job, presenters Karin Chenoweth, Author of Schools that Succeed; Sergio Garcia, Principal, Artesia High School (CA); and Chris Fitzgerald Walsh, Head of Impact, Abl, say making sure instructional time isn’t wasted is the administrator’s most important job.
In this edWebinar, you will learn how to overcome the hurdles of being a school leader and stay ahead with this helpful guide to battling isolation and getting connected. Have you ever struggled with being too connected or too isolated?
School leaders can use online networks and communities for their own personal professional learning, and to support collaboration with staff across schools and districts. In “How Online Learning Communities Help Principals Collaborate and Succeed,” Shannon Holden, Assistant Principal, Republic Middle School, MO, presented on the unique possibilities that online collaboration offers for personal professional learning and within schools, and how school leaders can use edWeb.net for online collaboration with staff.
To provide the best possible teaching and learning environment, school leaders need to provide their teachers with professional learning opportunities that are personalized and engaging. This is not an easy task when there are so many areas to cover, very little time, and limited funds. edWeb.net is free and can help school leaders provide teachers with personalized PD that meets teachers’ needs and interests, and promotes collaborative learning with peers. Shannon Holden, Assistant Principal at Republic Middle School, MO, provides a guide for school leaders to demonstrate how edWeb.net can be used in any school or district.