When the Covid-19 pandemic closed Niagara Falls City School District (NFCSD) school, educators were faced with the immediate challenge of creating an engaging virtual learning experience while maintaining strong lines of communication between instructors and students. Practically every teacher became a first-year teacher when distance learning took hold.
The NFCSD’s information technology (IT) team and our technology integrators embraced the challenge immediately and embarked on a rigorous training plan for teachers. Our team provided extensive professional development for our teachers that the district dubbed “Spring Training.” IT faced the challenge of introducing distance learning techniques to teachers who had varying degrees of technology know-how. Our tech-savvy teachers easily created their own websites (or already had them) and quickly grasped the Microsoft Office 365 platform; other teachers thrived with more training. We had to even the playing field.
By the end of the summer, all of our teachers had received extensive training in website development, Microsoft Office 365, and other virtual learning tools. The NFCSD did not run into delays starting the school year as some other districts did because we had a comprehensive, rigorous plan to train our teachers well in advance of September.
The “crash course” in distance learning that evolved out the pandemic fast forwarded the inevitable – technology-based learning is here to stay. Continuous professional development and support will keep the NFCSD stationed at the head of the class when it comes to technology.