Lafayette GEAR UP is working with the UL College of Education to connect LPSS high school teachers with best-practices training for navigating online and remote learning.
Led by Nathan Roberts, dean of the College of Education, this semester-long pilot program will enable teachers to use technology and virtual resources to create high-quality, online-learning environments and experiences for their students.
While many LPSS teachers have already devoted time to improving their online and virtual-learning knowledge, this program will further develop their expertise by providing advanced training and mentoring.
Given the challenges of the past year and the rapid pace of technological change, it’s imperative that teachers have the knowledge and confidence to work with and through online learning platforms. This is especially true for teachers of students who may themselves have less access or familiarity with digital tools and require greater engagement to achieve success through distance learning.
To address this important need, GEAR UP is arranging for a cohort of high school teachers from schools across the district to participate in this pilot program. Four professors from the UL College of Education — Amanda Mayeaux, Douglas Williams, Amy Barber and Marietta Adams — will work with these teachers, organized by grade level range and subject areas focus, to facilitate discussion, idea-sharing, and familiarity with online learning platforms.
After the immersion in online teaching and learning practices, participants will then work asynchronously to complete Online Instructor, Levels 1 and 2 Google for Education certification, as well as Google for Education Trainer Certification.
UL faculty will extend the learning that occurs in the Google for Education training by providing a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous discussions and presentations to share knowledge. Participants will also learn strategies for coaching and supporting fellow teachers in making student-centered decisions during online learning transitions.
“COVID-19 and the move to virtual learning has been a major challenge for our education system,” says Roberts. “This professional development program is designed to provide teachers with the real-world, practical skills and knowledge needed to be successful in this new environment.”
In addition to helping this group of teachers, who will receive a stipend for their participation, a major goal of the pilot is to prepare them to share what they’ve learned with their individual schools.
According to Mark Rabalais, chief academic officer for LPSS, the program’s train-the-trainer model is the real payoff.
“These teachers will be able to come back and share what they’ve learned with their peers during professional development days, thus expanding distance-learning expertise across all our schools,” he says.