Curriculum and Instruction department recognized for innovation
COVID-19 has not only affected how teachers teach their students, it has also impacted how they learn themselves, how they develop their own skills, and how they access support for the curriculum they teach. Teachers’ time is at a premium like never before, and they simply don’t have the flexibility or opportunity to attend professional learning seminars or visit with mentors in person. Nevertheless, the need for professional learning, coaching and support is as important as ever.
Connie Wallace, Arlington ISD director of curriculum and instruction, and her team were quick to recognize the challenges of COVID-19 and seize opportunities available online to fill the gap. They have developed a new model of support in an effort to better assist teachers in their need for professional learning help during the pandemic.
Wallace and her team call it “PL in Pajamas” and they have been recognized for their innovation in K-12 Dive, a website and newsletter that covers “the most impactful news and trends shaping K-12 education.”
“When they are up at 2 a.m. putting together a video for a class, they don’t have time to wait,” Wallace said of teachers in the K-12 Dive article. “Having on-demand PD experiences has been enhanced by COVID and will likely be continuing well into the future.”
The curriculum and instruction department works hard to ensure Arlington ISD teachers and leaders have access to a guaranteed and viable curriculum aligned to state standards and to provide curriculum-based professional learning to core content teachers.
The department’s “PL in Pajamas” is designed to ensure teachers have access to that curriculum-based professional learning despite the pandemic and restrictions on in-person meetings.
Currently, most of the “PL in Pajamas” sessions are self-paced, professional learning opportunities that teachers can access online whenever they have time and need it.
For teachers who prefer a facilitated professional learning session, live virtual opportunities are offered at 5 p.m. when teachers are home. However, some teachers need an even later option, so Wallace’s team is planning “March Madness,” when they will offer sessions as late as 8:30 p.m. Though live, the sessions will also be recorded and made available on-demand.
In addition to the sessions, the curriculum and instruction department has introduced online office hours.
“We put in place virtual office hours, so at any given time [educators can] log into a Zoom to link and engage with members of our department to get on-demand support,” Wallace said.