The University of Michigan School of Education is one of three Michigan institutions producing high-quality, free, online professional development for the state’s teachers and school staff.
With funding from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund for Michigan, part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, U-M, Michigan State University (MSU), and Michigan Virtual University (MVU) are contributing professional development modules that address topics related to inclusive teaching and learning. These new learning opportunities seek to address the urgent needs of Michigan teachers, administrators, and staff by providing training on research-based practices and strategies through convenient modules.
Modules will focus on inclusion and diversity-related topics such as navigating linguistic, socioeconomic, cultural, and gender diversity; developing SEL skills; understanding implicit bias; maintaining “engaged learning”; supporting early or emergent literacy development; managing special learning needs; and developing trauma-informed practice. The offerings will focus on remote, hybrid, and in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic and after.
Dr. Elizabeth Birr Moje, Dean of the U-M School of Education, says, “As educators, we have witnessed the intensification of inequities this year. We hear teachers, administrators, families, and communities calling for more support and improved resources. This collaboration is designed to respond directly to those calls and is centered on confronting the challenges expressed by our state’s school personnel.”
At the direction of the Governor’s Education Advisory Council, the modules will be available to all school personnel. Each of the 6-9 modules will be approximately 5-10 hours in length and qualify for State Continuing Education Clock Hours.
The modules will also provide practical strategies to improve communications with Michigan’s most vulnerable students, with the ultimate goal of increasing student engagement with remote and hybrid learning models where face-to-face interactions are limited or missing altogether. Long-term, the professional development resources will serve as a valuable resource for Michigan’s public education system once schools return to more normal campus-based learning environments.
The Center for Education Design, Evaluation, and Research (CEDER) will lead U-M’s course development efforts, while leveraging the expertise of School of Education faculty members.
Dr. Darin Stockdill, Design Coordinator at CEDER, says, “Our goal in course design is to do our best to ‘walk the talk’ of effective online learning. In other words, as we engage teachers in thinking about online teaching and learning through the lens of equity and inclusion, we want to model effective practices and provide a learning experience that is accessible, engaging, and impactful. One way to do this is to engage teachers in ‘meta-moments’ where we call out our own design decisions and the theory behind them and ask participants to consider how they can apply these same ideas and practices in their own teaching.”
U-M is in the process of mapping out three initial courses that will likely include:
- Inquiry-based teaching and learning online informed by disciplinary literacy instruction and culturally sustaining pedagogies;
- Trauma-based practice in online education informed by anti-racist teaching and culturally sustaining pedagogies; and
- Inclusive online teaching for English learners.
In addition to being available via MVU’s online learning platform, these offerings will be the first to be designed and delivered as part of the SOE's EdHub, a new online learning hub within the SOE. This initiative builds on preexisting work at the SOE in the online learning space. Nate Phipps, Managing Director of CEDER, says, “As part of the work of the EdHub we plan to use offerings like these PDs to build on and ‘stack’ to create larger offerings, including certificates and other professional learning experiences. Future use of these offerings might include synchronous community conversations or other events that allow communities of educators to come together to discuss and extend the topics addressed in the online modules.”