Krista Walker, Professional Development Program Manager with Boxlight-EOS Education, recently spoke with Larry Jacobs from Equity and Access Pre K-12 (ace-ed.org) about how school closures and the move to remote or hybrid learning due to COVID-19 changed professional development and support. Walker has 25 years of experience in education, including working with education technology, promoting accessibility and inclusive practices, helping educators include social and emotional learning into classroom instruction, encouraging community engagement, and advancing 21st-century enrichment.
For the last eight years, EOS Education – the Boxlight professional development division – has been working with the staff at Phoenix Union High School District (PXU). PXU is one of the largest and most progressive high school districts in the U.S., made up of 22 schools, over 28,000 students, and almost 4,000 employees. In those eight years, EOS work with staff included on-campus training, 1-to-1 coaching, classroom support, online courses, and observations and guidance from a dedicated team of Digital Learning Specialists. This was all prior to March 13, 2020, when schools closed and there was a total move to remote learning due to COVID-19.
By March 16, EOS had redesigned its program for PXU to support its switch to remote learning. This was the beginning of what Walker calls “crisis planning” and the team worked to help staff get through this stressful time of unknown. Walker comments that EOS knew there would be questions teachers would have during this time such as How do I connect to my students? How do I make sure they are safe? Do my students have access to WiFi? Do they have devices?
Understanding that PXU teachers and staff would not only have these questions, but for many, need training and guidance on how to facilitate instruction online, EOS redesigned its program for PXU. The redesign included the creation of Learning Labs and Virtual Playgrounds to encourage the application of skills taught, offering support and guidance as teachers learned to use their tech. EOS wanted to make safe learning environments for staff so that their confidence and comfort in using technology would grow. According to Walker, this is consistent with EOS goals to listen and create strong relationships based on an organization's needs. She stated, “We invest in those who’ve invested in us.”
To listen to this thought-provoking conversation and how professional development has evolved in this last year, click here, scroll down to Podcasts, then select Success Stories in Professional Development During COVID.
The Boxlight Professional Development Course Catalog is available for download here: boxlight.com/professional-development.