Maria Stavropoulos is Director of Technology at Prospect Heights SD23 in Illinois, a suburban district of nearly 1,500 students, 50% of whom are on free and reduced lunch. The district started the 2020-21 school year fully virtual.
Tools being used across the district
Google Meet, Seesaw, Schoology, Google Apps, iPads, MacBook Airs
One of the challenges that we are facing is meeting the needs of all students remotely. These needs may be ones of ability, resources, and support at home.
What are the advantages of teaching in this environment?
Some advantages this environment provides include asynchronous teaching, a device for all students, the opportunity for teachers to connect with their students via technology, and district learning management systems.
How are teachers being supporte?
Teachers are being supported with professional development that is asynchronous for the most part. Some synchronous PD was provided at the start of the school year and will be provided during the institute days or small meeting times. In addition, newer, more robust devices have been provided, as well as the accompanying instruction guides and demos.
How are you supporting your students?
Students are receiving digital materials through a district-issued iPad. In some cases, pickups have been arranged for other materials. Technical support is provided via a ticketing system for student devices. The district is also providing social-emotional resources and lessons as well.
How are you supporting your parents and families?
We have been providing technical support to all families and caregivers. We also have hosted virtual parent nights for support with recommendations for specific tools and home stations.
What has changed since your school district opened?
We have begun bringing in students with special needs and EC. Our next steps are to bring back Kindergarteners and first graders.
Did anything unexpected happen (good or bad) during remote learning that can now be used as a teachable moment?
Yes, teachers have had to use the technology available to them--they had to fast forward and apply the resources and strategies that were available for some time but not always leveraged. Teachers have had to develop a curriculum that is digitally engaging.
Anything else you'd like to add about your successes and challenges being an administrator during the pandemic?
As an administrator of the technology department that is small, I am concerned how much of the new workload is permanent. Perhaps it's time to reevaluate systems and look for sustainable solutions for the long term?
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