Flex Program Teacher Development

Teacher Development Grant

 2019-2020 Project Summary

Benjamin Brown

Bethel School District • Tacoma, WA

Some five years ago, Bethel School District made the bold decision to innovate instruction in the pursuit of developing and improving 21st century skills by deploying personal devices 1:1 for every student in the district, K-12. Voter approval was sought in the form of a levy—support which was reaffirmed last year when the voters were once again asked to support Bethel students in this important endeavor. Students and teachers alike have seen their options expand, a process which has been exciting to support as staff continue to unlock the power of these devices in the service of student learning. Now, they seek to continue to expand options for teachers and students with the Flex Program. This initiative describes the development of “hybrid” courses: classes which meet face-to-face on some days, and for which students may choose to work in a different space on others (e.g. library, other classroom, home, etc.). Hybrid will be a brand-new mode of teaching for all but two of their cohort in the coming school year (and they plan to leverage the knowledge of these hybrid veterans in support of the whole cohort!).
Because this mode of instruction is such a radical departure from what they are used to, project leaders will be offering several professional development opportunities to support teacher growth and the implementation of best-practices in hybrid pedagogy. Some of these opportunities will happen outside of contracted hours, including planning and development time during the summer. Incentive in the form of financial recognition of their valuable time will help to support teachers attending and continuing with this ongoing professional development, and facilitate a smooth transition into the school year.
This funding will support outside-contract teacher professional development and incentivize summer attendance in this opportunity by offering per-diem pay rates to teachers who are already asked to juggle so much. In addition to the day of in-person professional development, project members will be facilitating a book study using a text examining best practices in online and hybrid teaching. Specifically, they have selected the text “The Blended Course Design Workbook: A Practical Guide” for its immediate applicability to the group and to this program. To support the book study, they will be developing a sample hybrid model book study course for teachers to engage in as participants, both to drive conversation about and interaction with the text, and to demonstrate the principles that they will be using in their classrooms.
Finally, the cohort of teachers to share their experiences with the district and community at the annual “Summer Institute” series of professional development opportunities and also less formally at department and staff meetings. They anticipate growing this program in the future by enabling a strong, well-supported group of teachers.

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