‘Diving into the shift’ was how the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (KPBSD) approached taking on the idea of Remote Learning. The Professional Development team decided to take this situation head-on, and tackled it with gusto. The team knew that the weeks ahead presented unprecedented shifts in practice that teachers would need support for, AND the team knew there was a wealth of knowledge and expertise to pull from.
Once the team learned about the Governor’s decision to close schools, it was full throttle. Within the first week, the team, led by Dr. Christine Ermold, John Pothast, and Amanda Adams, was able to create and deliver approximately 260 webinars! There were six time slots throughout the day where the webinars were offered by the PD team members and a committed group of volunteers.
The webinars spanned a wide range of topics from training to utilize Canvas LMS at all levels to providing Social-Emotional Support for students and families. As requests were made, new webinars were created to meet the needs of all staff. The PD team used a series of protocols that offered structure to the process and provided quality assurance in content, while at the same time making presenting an easy-lift for the more than 50 teachers who volunteered to lead sessions.
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) has been a strong focus for the district and has been emphasized throughout the shift. SEL has important implications for everyone as we are all experiencing this pandemic together. Understanding that the learning curve was high for everyone, meant the focus of checking in with each other was even more important than ever.
Next, the teachers were given a survey to see where additional support was needed. More webinars were created and even more skills were developed! Then collaborations came into play, first on content, next by grade level. The initial drive to support the shift to remote learning has turned into an endeavor that will last beyond the end of the school year as KPBSD educators continue to dive into the shift and improve student learning together.
All along the way, the team kept a positive attitude and let that steer the ship. The response was overwhelming and the creation of a “Diving into the Shift Kudos Page” was created via Padlet. People from all over the district continue to share their appreciation for their colleagues and the work being done across the district to support the shared success of everyone involved.
Most recently, the PD team has moved on to create webinars supporting parents and guardians. Five webinars were offered during the first week, with over 60 people registered. These sessions focus on everything from how to balance working from home while supporting their child with school work, to strategies for giving effective feedback.
By April 10th, KPBSD’s team was able to utilize over 50 presenters for over 400 sessions. In Zoom meetings alone, as of April 13th, KPBSD had over 3,700 meetings! The PD team will continue to offer webinars, collaborations, and even credit courses, throughout the remainder of the school year. “Diving into the shift” has become more than a phrase; it’s an attitude for success that impacts teachers, school staff, students, and families.
Devin Way is a Title I Early Literacy Specialist for KPBSD. She has been with the district for 5 years now. Before the Kenai Peninsula, she taught for the North Slope Borough School District. Most of her 14 years of teaching have been in a multi-age setting, but this is her first year in a coaching role. She enjoys working to assist solid educators in early primary grades to create the foundational skills for the students to build upon. Devin is originally from the east coast and now lives in Nikiski with her husband and dogs.
Amanda Adams has taught for 18 years in a wide variety of content areas ranging from ELL to Social Studies to Health including Educational Technology and Effective Instruction coaching. Currently, she is involved in the professional development realm as the Personalized Learning and Student Success Specialist for the Kenai Pen District. Her work intertwines deeply with current research and innovative practices. She is passionate about shared leadership, teacher empowerment, and intentional and reflective teaching practices. She serves in a variety of professional organizations and continually works to expand her educational practice through global collaboration.