Instructional Education Technology Support and Professional Learning
Prior to the conclusion of the 2018-19 school year, a small group of educators joined to plan the district’s first ever Education Technology Conference. Over two days in August 2019 more than 40 educators participated in a variety of workshops focused on increasing engagement and organization in the classroom through an edtech lens. Two major takeaways from the conference included:
- Educators need to partner with IT Specialists to deliver professional development to staff
- Educators, in partnership with experts, need more collaboration time to create learning opportunities that harness technology in the classroom
For School Year 2019-20 an expanding team of tech savvy educators channeled the experiences during the Tech Conference into a series of monthly professional development sessions called “Flipped PD”, offered via our district's professional development catalogue.
The relationships we developed through our time together formed an infrastructure and system to deliver much needed, spur-of-the moment professional development sessions throughout the Spring remote learning period.
The Spring remote learning period provided an opportunity for the Education Technology (EdTech) Team to support our colleagues in addressing rising edtech challenges. In support, daily workshops around Zoom, Remind (an app to communicate with parents and students), and virtual class management tools such as Google Classroom, Schoology, and Class Dojo were designed and offered.
EdTech Office Hours were initiated, a recurring virtual space for any staff to ask questions and check-in with colleagues. Office hours occurred each day between 9-10am and 3-4pm, Monday, March 16 through Friday, June 12. The staff involved in regular meetings, workshops, and office hours became resources for their school communities as the design of the collective gave staff the flexibility to put our work into practice. The team includes more than 40 educators with district representation across nearly all schools.
Beginning August 12, members of the EdTech team will facilitate Somerville Public Schools’ first ever virtual EdTech Conference. Major themes include Building Community During Remote Learning and Creating Videos for Asynchronous Learning. We are partnering with Lesley University, Somerville Media Center, LearnLaunch, and MAPLE, a local education nonprofit and consortium offering a helpful set of tools called the Building Block of Equitable Remote Learning. We hope to offer another round of sessions.
School Year 2020-21
The EdTech Team will undoubtedly be faced with a new set of challenges as we move into the new school year. We are focused on developing recommendations and hope to institutionalize the EdTech role.
Developing an evolving library of “How To” guides, videos, and other resources for staff, students, and families translated into multiple languages will be a central focus moving forward. Creating a system of video creation and curation is paramount if we plan to provide an equitable experience for families across the district. A small team piloted this process in partnership with Somerville Media Center and developed videos for parents during the SPELL Summer program for English Language Learners. Using this pilot as a springboard, as well as leveraging high school students in media making classes like the Broadcasting Club, and exploring the idea of recruiting high school students for an emerging Technology Leaders (Tech Leaders) program will provide peers and staff opportunities to co-design workshops, co-run office hours, and develop “How-To” videos and other resources.
Recruiting and working with stakeholders representing the Somerville Public Schools community is a top priority to ensure a variety of voices are heard and uplifted. Continued development and support of EdTech space will play a major role in ensuring a more equitable experience for students during remote learning.