Stronger Together: Professional RelationshipsPart of Stronger Together: A Guidebook for the Safe Reopening of California's Public Schools. Created through the Reopening Schools Task Force that fostered a collaborative process for educators and stakeholders to lend their important voices.
Professional Relationships and Learning
Reopening schools utilizing new instructional models requires special attention to professional relationships and learning. Any large-scale transition for schools can only be achieved with commitment through strong educator supports. Educators must be supported in ways that allow them to focus on student learning. An important part of this support should include building and nurturing staff relationships. This can be achieved by addressing the strain of isolation through video conferencing, digital environments, and time for educators to stay in touch with each other, and by ensuring teachers have agency in determining the focus of professional learning (PL). PL sessions should also be facilitated with adult social–emotional learning in mind, incorporating practices such as welcoming rituals, engagement activities, and optimistic closures.
Implementation of a quality PL system aligned to California’s Quality Professional Learning Standards ensures that the transition to a new instructional program model will result in positive outcomes for students and educators. Schools should conduct surveys of educators and families regarding early efforts to transition to distance learning to analyze what worked well and what needs improvement before transitioning to a new instructional program model. Data should be continuously collected throughout the transition to inform PL and should be disaggregated by student groups in order to identify the most critical student needs. The content of PL experiences should help administrators and teachers build a shared understanding of what successful implementation of the instructional program model looks like for all students and what the system needs in order to achieve it. PL should also cover health and safety protocols. Community of practice models should continue, through effective use of digital tools, to try new approaches and share results with colleagues, facilitate common planning and peer observation, and provide tailored supports as needed. Instructional leaders should support teachers in building confidence within the new model by providing opportunities to learn and experiment with tools and resources.
Essential Planning Questions
- How will the school maintain positive relationships among staff?
- What information can we solicit from students, families, and educators about distance learning efforts and a transition to a new instructional program model that can inform PL opportunities?
- What does successful implementation of the new instructional program model look like and what supports do educators need in order to achieve it?
- What PL structures can continue under the new instructional schedule model and what adjustments need to be made in order to maintain quality, safety, and accelerate student learning?
- What opportunities will be provided to teachers in order to build their confidence with the new instructional program model?
Models and Best Practices
- CDE Quality Professional Learning from a Distance
- CDE Distance Learning Guidance
- CDE COVID-19 Webinars
- Learning Forward: Tips for Leading Professional Learning Online
- Education Week (Opinion): What Does Remote Instructional Leadership Look Like During a Pandemic?
- Oakland Unified School District’s Three Signature Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Practices
- Chief Learning Officer: How Can We Build Relationships in Virtual Isolation?