During June and July 2020, Los Alamos Public Schools offered Summer Institute, an opportunity for LAPS employees to receive exceptional professional development. While some outside experts were hired to present, most courses were taught by LAPS employees.
This year’s Institute was split into two sessions over the summer: one in June and one in July. Each session included three days of courses offered to all teachers and school staff. Those off contract receive stipends for attending classes. Each class included a read-ahead article, 45-60 minute presentation, 15-20 minutes of Q&A and a homework assignment.
This year, the offered courses were devoted to technology for remote learning and wellness for our staff members. The categories of courses included technology, virtual learning environment, whole child education, health and well-being as well as applicable self-paced options like becoming a Google Certified Educator.
“The goal of this year’s Summer Institute was to help staff support each other as they prepare to educate remotely,” said Kathryn Vandenkieboom, Assessment and Curriculum Director. “We are also trying to keep the whole child in mind.”
In June, 140 participants completed 22 courses, and some staff members took more than one course.
Melissa Goldman, a teacher at Los Alamos High School, was both an instructor and a student for the June Summer Institute. She led two sessions each of Using the Classwork Tab in Google Classroom and Facilitating Communication with Google Groups. “When coming up with the workshops, I thought about ways I used various Google tools during the shutdown and what sorts of questions colleagues had been asking me,” Melissa said. “The Summer Institute was a great way to share some of my ideas with more colleagues at once and practice among ourselves.
“I participated in Kati Steinberg’s Assessment in Three Parts, which gave me an opportunity to play around with a number of feedback tools that have always been on my ‘I should check this out… someday” list,’” she added. “Having the scheduled time meant that I finally worked with them and had some time set aside to think through how they can work in a digital environment.”
Melissa added, “I really appreciate having a cohort of colleagues from across sites, grade levels, and disciplines since it broadens my perspective and exposes me to ideas that I wouldn’t necessarily encounter otherwise.”
The July session had 50 courses to choose from and 265 participants signed up to attend. Virtual learning topics included Google Classroom, Pear Deck and Flipgrid. Summer Institute gives teachers the chance to explore new web application resources purchased by the district, like Pear Deck and Seesaw, that are meant to help streamline teachers’ work and engage their students.