The education landscape is constantly evolving, and it can be tough for teachers to keep up with the rapid pace of change when their main focus is helping students succeed lesson by lesson, day by day.
At K12, we know that when a teacher feels prepared and confident in what they are teaching and how they are teaching it, the entire classroom benefits. That’s why we are committed to helping teachers at K12-powered schools stay on top of the latest trends, techniques and best practices in education. Our online systems allow us to seamlessly provide teachers with high-quality tools and resources that help them grow their effectiveness and improve learning outcomes. And dedicated K12 staff ensure that teachers can keep on the cutting edge of instruction and access meaningful professional development opportunities, no matter where they are in their teaching career.
Coaching for Growth
One key way we do this is through K12’s Instructional Coaching program, which pairs teachers with experienced peers – often veteran educators themselves – for bi-monthly observations and feedback sessions. Instructional Coaches are not evaluators, but rather mentors and partners to teachers as they continue to fine-tune their approach to instruction. Instructional Coaches work with teachers to define their goals for each class, reflect on how they are meeting them, and brainstorm creative new approaches to lesson plan development and instruction. Instructional Coaches also share their overall observations of teachers’ performance with school leaders to pinpoint strengths and areas for improvement.
The Instructional Coaching program, which includes more than 50 coaches that have logged more than 2,600 hours with teachers around the country, is just one way K12 is empowering teachers to own their instruction and professional development. We have received amazing feedback from teachers on this highly personalized and collaborative feedback model. Consider the testimony of this teacher:
“During our first meeting it was evident how knowledgeable my Instructional Coach was and that she truly cared about supporting teachers. She takes the time to reflect on her observations along with us, to create effective suggestions and offer support and feedback that drive you to try new ideas and expand your teaching methods. I not only value our time together, but also look forward to our meetings. It is a time where I feel I can critically look at my instruction, examine what needs to change and celebrate success (which she is sure to point out)! I truly hope I am able to continue working with her next year as I continue to grow as an educator and look forward to future planning and meetings!”
Bringing Technology to Bear
K12’s commitment to supporting teachers also requires we apply the same cutting-edge technology used in K12’s online learning platform- to help teachers be as effective as possible. Our Talent Development and Community platform supports teachers’ onboarding, professional development, instruction, engagement and IT needs when and where they need it.
This resource is particularly helpful in our onboarding process, and to date, more than 5,000 teachers have been trained on the Talent Development and Community platform. While many educators at K12-powered schools have advanced degrees, adapting to a virtual classroom model requires special training – even for the most experienced people. Fortunately, Talent Development and Community tutorials explain how to use the software in accessible terms, so that teachers of all technological backgrounds can fully understand the ins and outs of their classrooms. What’s more, as part of their onboarding teachers and staff also complete four hours of training on Class Connect, before they even teach a class. In this training, they learn about tools and techniques used in K12’s live online classroom instruction that are so important to our overall model. Talent Development and Community also serves as a clearinghouse for high-quality professional development resources and training modules, where teachers can continue to fine-tune their skills. This support and training continues after teachers enter the classroom, with more than 90 brief support videos and 80 job aids available directly inside the platform.
Equally important to our teacher experience is the opportunity for them to share feedback and insights to the K12 team in real time. Our online-first model gives us the unique opportunity to constantly assess and improve how we are serving teachers and students. From July to September 2018, more than 800 teachers have taken advantage of this resource. And every quarter, K12 conducts a Pulse Check, an in-depth survey that helps us gauge teacher satisfaction across a number of topics.
Finally, we know that there is no better way for teachers to learn than from other teachers. We strive to connect teachers with one another as much as possible and foster a sense of community and collaboration among teachers across the country. The Talent Development and Community Facebook page is one place where teachers can share articles they’re reading, offer professional advice, and celebrate each other’s work.
Supporting Life-Long Learning
As a leader in online K-12 education, K12 strives to build a culture of “always-on” learning among students, and teachers should be no different. To help teachers level up in an ever-changing education world, we have partnered with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) to develop a system of competency-based professional development, as well as graduate programs specifically designed for online teachers and available at a discounted rate. Our big goal is to scale this promising program so that teachers working in all types of schools across the U.S. can access the learning and credentials they need to be successful in the classroom.
It’s true that nobody works harder than teachers, and at K12 we believe it’s our responsibility to give them the tools and resources they need to deliver a high-quality, personalized education to each and every child. By equipping talented educators with strong, supportive peer networks and cutting-edge technology, we can help teachers at K12-powered schools keep up with our ever-changing education landscape and focus on what matters most: their students’ success.