North Texas: Students and Teachers Rising to Expectations


There’s a lot to learn at the Learning Counsel’s regional Digital Transition Discussions. Perhaps most importantly, regional and national education experts are proving the indominable spirit of education is alive and well in America. And even though most will tell you there are no absolute right or wrong answers to the questions we are all asking, it is encouraging to know we are figuring it out as we go along.

According to Todd Gruhn, Assistant Superintendent and Chief Technology Officer at Trenton ISD, “Ultimately we have learned to be flexible. We have learned to roll with the punches. It seems like every day is something different. I know when we were having our weekly administration meetings during the summer, it seemed like every time we met the state had changed another way of classifying this or put a new restriction on that. And we would have to go back and redo our plans. We'd have to resubmit things to TEA. Basically, flexibility is key. And that's, that's become our mantra this year from students to administration. We have found that students will rise to expectations if we establish those expectations, whether they're remote or if they're face to face. Our teachers have been really, really good at being patient at learning to look at the big picture when it comes to working with students.

“We're going to learn more because the year's not over yet,” said Gruhn. “But we we've narrowed what is helping us be successful down to three things - adequate technology infrastructure, focusing on our human infrastructure and maintaining good relationships with vendors.”

That’s North Texas, smart and learning as they go. They are learning a lot, and now you can learn what they’ve learned.


Hybrid Logistics & Secrets of Motivation

Educator Session on Hybrid Organizing: "Our Story at Trenton ISD"

Hear our experience with the logistical and technical challenges of reopening a school district on time. What are the best practices being used in moving to hybrid, the behind-the-scenes logistics? Interesting gaps have emerged that tech is rushing in to help. New ideas like deploying PODs (Parents Over Development) teacher- leaders for neighborhoods to limit large gatherings on campuses, disassembling class structure into independent and distributed multi-grade home-rooms, partitioned on a campus, with tech to intersect students with teachers via auto-cohorting based on personalized pace for live or virtual classes using layered automated calendars tied to curriculum maps, and more. From the “we’re doing it on spreadsheets,” to the high-end systems, America’s schools are committed to delivering on the learning promise.  Find out what we’ve identified from numerous successful districts and schools, and what is yet to come now that hybrid and remote learning is here for all.


Educator Session on Hybrid Organizing"The Search for the New Normal"

There is not a clear path, nobody out there is an expert on how to overcome the challenges of pandemics in PK-12 education. We have been called into action to overcome what is likely the most interesting professional challenge of our lifetime and we are all acting according to what we think is best for our students. Click on this session to hear what Dallas ISD has learned about professional development in the time of the pandemic, and how you can apply this in your own district.


Educator Session on Models & Practice: 

Hear some of the ways that Keller ISD prepared their teachers as the COVID pandemic arrived on the scene. You’ll also hear some of the takeaways that the district is currently working on and the aha moments that they have had as they worked through their challenges. According to Elaine Plybon, Director of Personalized Learning for Keller ISD, “ I tell people every day, it's like we're all in our first year of teaching because we are all encountering things that we've never encountered before. And we're all encountering problems that have to be solved on the fly.” You’ll find many of their solutions to be brilliant, and you’ll be able to use them in your own classrooms immediately.


Educator Session Models & Practice: "Planning for Unknown Possibilities"

This presentation will explain how our district chose to prepare teachers for virtual learning with a two-part plan that involved a quasi-virtual learning experience and a personalized approach to boost technology skills. Hear how this district  modeled both new and existing technology tools during a day of professional learning that allowed teachers to experience virtual learning 'as a student' and our in-house personalized learning modules that allows teachers to advance their tech skills regardless of their current level.


Local Panel of Administrators | Our Digital Transition

None of us are as smart as all of us, and this panel of experts from the TEA and three of Texas’ most innovative districts (Dallas ISD, Garland ISD and Sulpher Springs ISD) have learned a lot as they start the new school year. Hear how these districts were able to leverage technology and come to the realization that it doesn’t matter how many obstacles they face, the learning must continue. You’ll be amazed at what they have learned so far, the obstacles they have overcome, and how they were able to engage students under the most trying circumstances to deliver true, quality learning for their students.


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