NY - Guest Educator Panel – Lessons Learned in Our Digital Transition
Kaweeda G. Adams, Superintendent for the City School District of Albany leads a rich, frank and detail-laden discussion on the lessons learned as the digital transition progressed through the rigors of the pandemic. The lessons learned were valuable, and most are universally transferable to almost every school or district. According to Adams, “When we initially transitioned to a blended learning platform, it was basically taking what you did in person, and now applying it to the Google classroom. Well, we've gotten a little bit better with that because we have done the research and our assistant superintendent, Karen Bechtle, over curriculum instruction and professional development partnered with our assistant superintendent over assessment, accountability and technology integration, Mr. Kent Baker. They partnered so we could look at what is it, now that we have this baseline of Google classroom. How do we transition to a true blended learning model? And so, we put together the professional development, we did a lot of the research, and we now have a plan moving forward, and that's how we started this year. So that's part of that digital transition. We started this year with a big launch and kickoff about what is true blended learning.
“And do we have the resources available? Yes, we do have the resources available. We are one-to-one with our Chromebooks. We have partnered with different vendors with regard to Internet access for our families. We're able to provide that Internet access for our families within our district through various partnerships that we have. And so by being able to provide the technology in the home, we were able to see an increase in our family engagement and the empowerment, and just the participation of our families being able to participate virtually as we have moved forward this year and we are 100 percent in-person, we are still balancing that for our families. So some of our events, if they're smaller events, they may be held in person because then we can definitely assure social distancing and all of the COVID protocols, but then there's a digital component. There's the virtual component to that particular small event. We are maintaining the virtual environment for our larger events. And then of course, being able to safely bring back and enhance our before and after school programming for our students so that they can get that connectedness.
“It was very challenging. I make no bones about that. I mean, we had families that experienced a lot of loss. We had staff members who experienced a lot of loss themselves. COVID impacted all our lives in every aspect of our lives, even if we didn't see it readily, it was coming and it was going to happen. And so being able to have those supports in place was vital - for our families, but also our employees, because they're the ones who have to take care of our students. We have to be able to take care of each other and of ourselves.
“And so, um, it, it was very challenging. I think one of the main lessons learned through all of those challenges and I'll get into some specifics in just a moment is that vulnerability is not a weakness. It's absolutely a strength because it humanizes all of us. And I think sometimes we are so busy being so strong and being everything to everyone else, We forget that human component of vulnerability. One of the things that we have learned through this as leaders, is it's a sign of strength because it humanizes us, it helps us move forward.”
There are many lessons learned, and you are free to select the ones that can help you directly. This discussion is open and inviting and designed specifically to help you through your own learned lessons. Enjoy!