Granite State College has been selected to provide training for up to 4,000 PK-12 teachers beginning in the summer of 2021 on behalf of the New Hampshire Department of Education (NHDOE). This grant-funded training will give New Hampshire educators the opportunity to further develop skills related to creating effective virtual classrooms and facilitating engaging online instruction.
Presented in a fully online five-week format, this training will be directly transferable to educators’ classrooms, regardless of grade-level or content focus. Granite State College instructors will deliver the training using an approach that fosters a virtual professional learning community, providing a space for continued connection and support. Thanks to the NHDOE grant, this training is offered at no cost to participants. In addition, Granite State College will utilize free course materials, eliminating the common out-of-pocket costs associated with purchasing books, software, and other teaching and learning materials.
This professional development opportunity comes at a time when many districts are considering the future of their educational modalities beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Jim McCullom, an Educational Consult and School Administrator working in New Hampshire’s Lake region, remarks about this necessary shift in planning for students’ sake:
“Over the last 35 years, I’ve had the privilege of working with public school students and teachers. I’ve also watched technology become a significant part of learning for many of us. In the last year, we’ve all experienced the need to depend on technology to deliver instruction. While some thrived delivering synchronous and asynchronous learning, others struggled. The opportunity to strengthen teachers’ skills with online education is fantastic.”
Some students, successful in their remote classrooms, would love to see the modality continue in the future. Audrey Gibson, a Mascenic Regional High School student, notes the flexibility online learning provides and the maturity it has helped her to develop over the past year:
“As someone who works best when I am able to create my own schedule and am in a familiar environment, online learning has become the best option for me this year. I have had to depend on myself to attend all my classes on time and complete my work before the due date without the reminders of my teachers or classmates. Time management was something I had to re-learn thanks to online learning. Areas where I usually struggle in school, I felt like I thrived in this year. Feeling comfortable in my environment and following a schedule that was easiest for me allowed me to produce my best work.”
Granite State College’s five-week professional development course is built upon Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines, which outline specific strategies for ensuring that all learners have equitable access to lesson content and learning experiences. As Granite State’s instructors facilitate the training modules, they will be modelling the best practices in remote instruction using the same UDL principles and approaches that participants will take back to their PK-12 classrooms. As a result, participants in the training can expect an engaging, collaborative, and learner-driven experience that includes content presented in multiple modalities, differentiated tasks and assessments, flexibility, and participant choice.
Granite State College recognizes that New Hampshire teachers are responding to the need for remote learning in different ways, including facilitating instruction in a wide variety of online classroom platforms. Although the principles of great teaching are the same regardless of the platform where learning takes place, the online modality creates new and unique challenges for educators as they approach their craft.
Dr. Nicholas Marks, Dean for Granite State College’s School of Education, sees the need for teacher preparation programs to begin embedding best practices for online pedagogy into the preservice teacher curricula.
“Granite State College is pleased to support this important statewide initiative on behalf of the New Hampshire Department of Education. Our responsibility to the State is ever-evolving in light of shifts to online teaching, and we are realizing the increased importance of embedding aspects of online pedagogy in our curriculum across our teacher preparation programs. Ultimately our mutual goal is strengthening New Hampshire’s educational environment for students.”
For more information about this grant-funded training, please visit: cps.unh/online.