The HCISD Virtual Teacher Academy began last year as a way to prepare educators for teaching during the pandemic. Now, it has evolved into more than 200 courses.
“It’s teachers teaching teachers during this time,” instructional technology specialist Monica Alvarado said. “We did have the virtual teacher academy last year, but we had a lot of required sessions. This year it’s optional, and we have over 1,000 registrations for these two weeks. So, we are super excited. During the academy kickoff, we had some great presenters, great smiles, and some happy people at 8:30 in the morning.”
This year, the teacher academy was held July 19-29. The topics of the courses varied greatly.
“We have everything from Apple to Region One participating,” Alvarado said. “It’s elementary through high school, special education, bilingual, anything that you’re looking for is on there.”
The teacher virtual academy will be held entirely online, and teachers can earn professional development hours by participating.
“Our theme is Super Mario Bros., so the teachers can earn coins or points for participation towards prices,” Alvarado said. “We have teachers that presented last year, coaching teachers presenting this year. We are expanding the number of presenters and helping them feel comfortable by being in the sessions with them and coaching them along the way.”
After a year of teaching during a pandemic, HCISD educators have learned many new things. The virtual teacher academy gives educators an opportunity to share out and gain new knowledge and ideas.
“We are really offering teachers an opportunity to perfect their practice,” Alvarado said. “We learned a lot last year. We have gone through a year of learning what applications to use to learning how to communicate with students on Zoom. Teachers have learned what a professional learning platform is, and they’ve learned how to go online and seek what they want to know. It is just incredible. Teachers are hungry to learn, and this style of being able to be on Zoom and be at home is awesome.”