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Reimagine Professional Learning
Bridgeport Exempted Village School District is a small district in southeast Ohio. We have approximately 800 students in PreK-High School. Instead of viewing our small size and our Appalachian location as a deficit, we see it as one of our greatest strengths. We have one campus, so literally everyone is within a small walk away. In addition, using true integration “levels the playing field” for all students. In our district, the seamless integration of technology within our daily curriculum continues to be a main priority as we have found that it enriches our standards-based lessons, keeps our students engaged in the content much longer, connects them to the larger world and allows them to create a personalized learning path in the process. When our students do this, the responsibility of learning ownership shifts from adult to student. As a district, we do not view curriculum and technology as two separate entities, but rather a seamless woven tapestry where you cannot have one without the other.
Our district professional learning has evolved into a more individualized approach. In the past, our professional learning was in a group setting; however, this approach did not consider the variety of learning styles and skill levels of our teachers. Many individual needs were not met with this approach, so we decided to support coaching cycles, a more individualized and effective approach for our staff. Over the last three years, both the District’s Technology Director and the Curriculum Director have committed to working with an Apple Senior Specialist to support voluntary cohorts of teachers who are interested in providing more creative and personalized learning experiences for their students. What was once a small group of individual teachers involved in the first cohort is now growing to grade level and subject level teacher teams who are working together expanding opportunities for their students through a team approach.
Beginning with the 2022-2023 school year, we began with our third voluntary cohort of teachers while inviting and including cohort 1 and 2 members to continue in the coaching cycles. Along with our Apple Senior Specialist, we work with our cohort teachers and their students in 3-day Coaching Cycles. The first day we assist in planning the lesson. This lesson is not contrived, but instead we discuss creative ways to integrate technology into their current lesson planned for the next day. On Day 2, the Apple Senior Specialist, Technology Director, and Curriculum Director support the lesson in the classroom. In our minds, this day is absolutely the best! Children are amazing at how creative they are when given an opportunity to learn with little to no constraints. On the third day, we meet with each teacher to reflect on successes, provide feedback, and plan forward.
We see professional learning as a systemic district-wide opportunity. To support this endeavor, our administrators participated in Visionary Leadership and Executive Leadership Coaching. We also had many teachers recognized as Apple Teachers and our Technology Director and 4th Grade English Language Arts teacher completed the Apple Learning Coach Course to effectively support teachers in their journey.
All professional development in our district is connected. For example, we have had professional development on the effective use of high yield instructional strategies. We work to support the idea that this integration lends itself to students taking ownership of their learning, which is an instructional strategy that has a high effect size. In other words, we work to “connect the dots” with district professional development. We do this through our work with our District Leadership Team (DLT), made up of teachers and administrators, Building Leadership Teams, and Teacher Based Teams. All district-level professional development is discussed, supported, and facilitated via our DLT. Members of the DLT then communicate to their building and teacher-based teams. This follows the Ohio Improvement Process and is included within our district’s plan.
Our professional learning goal is to empower every teacher to create classroom environments where students can try, fail, laugh, share, solve problems, make connections, create personalized learning paths that they choose to follow, and own their learning success.