When the COVID-19 pandemic forced many school districts to abruptly shift their education to a distance-learning model, teachers and administrators had to adapt their curriculum and teaching styles to a virtual setting. The challenge was twofold: teachers had to learn how to use the online tools at their disposal and how to develop and nurture relationships with their students through a digital format.
CPS found a solution through its Distinguished Educator program, a gamified professional development track focused on maximizing the use of digital tools and building connections with students in the virtual classroom. The program has four distinct stages, each one with badges and certifications built around a set of new skills and tools:
- Stage One — Curriculum Content: Technological competency and aptitude
- Stage Two — Connection: Developing student relationships
- Stage Three — Collaboration: Cooperation and culturally responsive teaching
- Stage Four — Creation: Innovation, adaption and beyond
The Distinguished Educator program was developed in collaboration between CPS’ Learning Technologies team and Curriculum and Instruction team, along with instructional design and technology experts from the University of Cincinnati.