Customer Spotlight: South Western School District

Posted by Kari Houle on Jan 22, 2018 11:11:29 AM

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Using Hoonuit’s professional development solution, Pennsylvania’s South Western School District has made educator learning a focus for the district, providing teachers with high-quality resources to help them reach their professional goals.

 

A learning experience is only as good as the engaging, inspiring teacher delivering the lesson. That’s why it’s essential for educators at all levels and stages of their careers to have the resources they need to continue their professional growth and development — long after they complete the necessary degrees and certifications. When educators are encouraged to learn new skills, implement new technology in their classrooms, and work toward personal goals, they’re not only growing as teachers, they’re also shaping their classrooms into more successful learning environments for students.

 

One district that has made a serious commitment to educator professional development (PD) is Pennsylvania’s South Western School District. Looking to enhance its existing PD initiatives with high-quality, vetted, and flexible PD options, the district adopted Hoonuit’s professional development platform two years ago to better implement and track the success of its programs, and to provide its educators with the resources they need to achieve their specific professional goals.

 

Better Teachers, Better Students

 

South Western is a high-performing suburban school district that serves approximately 4,600 students. One of the district’s overarching goals is to enable teachers to personalize learning for each student at every grade level. But in order for teachers to do so, their own professional development must be similarly specific to their needs. “As we’ve tried to personalize learning for students, my philosophy has been that we need to do that for adults as well,” says Assistant Superintendent Daniel Hartman. “A one-size-fits-all approach to professional development doesn’t work.”

 

With the help of Hoonuit’s PD solution, the district has provided teachers with streamlined access to an intuitive platform where they can complete high-quality, individualized coursework on their own time, away from school. From an administrative perspective, the positive impact has been obvious. “I think student achievement is most impacted by classroom practice and teacher practice, and teacher practice is most influenced by professional learning,” says Hartman. “The best way to make a school better is by providing our teachers with the resources and access they need to be successful, and those opportunities to engage in high quality professional development.”

 

Flexible Options

 

In Pennsylvania, teachers are required to fulfill professional learning credits, as designated by Act 48. Referred to as Act 48 credits, these are typically fulfilled over the course of several days of in-person professional learning. When South Western School District began using Hoonuit, administrators were able to roll Hoonuit coursework into their traditional summer PD program. As a result, teachers were able to complete the training — even if scheduling conflicts kept them from the in-person sessions.

 

“Traditionally, our teachers have had to come in for two days of professional development over the summer,” says Hartman. “We offered some blended options last year where, in lieu of coming in, teachers could complete a series of related Hoonuit courses that administration concluded was the equivalent to the in-person training.” Allowing teachers to make up that time remotely and still achieve their Act 48 credits was “a huge success, and granted teachers some flexibility with their summer schedules.”

 

Going the PD Distance

 

Two years into using Hoonuit’s professional development platform, Hartman says the district has identified specific PD goals in which Hoonuit will play a significant role. Currently, Hartman is focused on building a micro-credentialing system through which teachers can develop and track what the district calls “professional learning competencies.” As Hartman describes:

 

“We’re trying to build a system that creates individual pathways for teachers, where they can say ‘I want to become a distinguished teacher in the area of student engagement’ — which is one of our competencies — and pursue that goal on their own time.”

 

Over time, Hartman hopes to assemble a number of pathways that teachers can choose from as they work to master new skills, gain expertise, and complete various professional certifications. “We want to lead them to their goals,” he says, “and Hoonuit will be a major component of that.”

 

Interested in learning more? Click here to find out how Hoonuit Learn It. Do It. Share It. Prove It. framework can equip your district to help teachers reach their professional goals and help every student succeed.

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