‘We Are All In This Together: ASDN Supports Alaskan Educators’ Transition to Online Learning’ by Austin Burdette at ACSA

As educators across the state face the challenge of creating and navigating virtual classrooms, the Alaska Staff Development Network (ASDN) and Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA), have stepped up to provide relevant, researched-based online programs for Alaska’s teachers and school administrators. 

The Alaska Staff Development Network has been a leader in distance delivery of professional development in Alaska for almost forty years. As schools began the process of closing their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ASDN immediately stepped up to create no-cost, one-hour support sessions for teachers quickly transitioning into remote education.

“Because of our longstanding relationship with Alaskan educators ASDN saw the immediate need and, over the course of a weekend, assembled relevant programming with experienced presenters designed to support both rural and urban educators across Alaska,” said ASDN Administrator Kathy Blanc. “Our goal is always to provide supportive professional learning that responds to the needs of our educators.”

Ricky Robertson leads a session on supporting educator and student resilience – April 2, 2020

In the first three weeks, there have been over 2,600 registrations for 44 different sessions focused on math, literacy, early childhood, online instruction, and social/emotional support. Newly developed webinars are being created in response to feedback from educators. Educator and student resilience, a common request among teachers, was just added this week. 

ASDN has partnered with the Coalition for Education Equity (CEE) to address specific problems faced by rural communities without internet access. As many schools transition to online learning platforms, teachers in rural and remote communities have been scrambling to find meaningful ways to engage with their students when internet connection is not available.

Literacy educator Shelby Skaanes discusses ASDN and CEE’s partnership to support rural educators.

“We know this sudden disruption of the classroom community has been, and will continue to be, stressful for some teachers and students. Anticipating the need, we wanted to provide teachers with immediate resources they can use for themselves and their students to address challenges associated with this change,” said ASDN facilitator and Grant and Outreach Administrator Sam Jordan.

These remote teaching and learning sessions are also a start to addressing teacher isolation.  As schools move forward with distance learning, opportunities for educators to support each other and draw on collective professional expertise and wisdom is a key to success.

Tammy Morris leads a “Ready…Set…Engage!” Session – April 6, 2020

Feedback from sessions has been overwhelmingly positive:

This webinar was so helpful to me!! I have been feeling very isolated and collaboration starved from my colleagues/admin. Almost every resource I found elsewhere that was even remotely cool required internet. After today’s webinar I feel refreshed and inspired!”

“I’m grateful to you for organizing these webinars so quickly and the presenters who are doing a fabulous job. It’s nice to know that others are in the same boat, and that we’re all learning together. Thank you, thank you.”

“The session was a reasonable length with plenty of helpful resources to try out afterwards. They were also realistic and practical resources. I felt like the facilitators really cared about what we wanted to know and they had a good understanding of the types of challenges we are going through. Thank you!”

“I’m taking 3 sessions this week and more next week. They are VERY helpful! I am not very technology savvy so I’m learning a lot about distance teaching and resources! Thank you so much!!”

ASDN would like to thank professional learning providers Lexie Domaradzki, Shelby Skaanes, Bobbi Jo Erb, Tammy Morris, Heidi Johnson, Ricky Robertson and Cheryl Bobo for bringing their expertise to Alaskan educators during this unique moment.  Sessions will continue throughout April 2020.

Educators can access recordings and resources from all the Remote Teaching Support Sessions HERE. To view the session schedule or register for an upcoming course, use the following LINK.