St. Vrain Valley Schools will begin its third cohort of Teachers Guild this November. The Teachers Guild is a professional learning community for and by teachers who are a creative force for students, schools, and communities. Teachers work in small teams and utilize design thinking, a human-centered approach to problem solving, to implement new systems within their learning community.
“Through collective efficacy and design thinking, the Teachers Guild creates opportunities for educators to be agents of change within their own communities,” said Kristen Brohm, STEM Program Manager at the Innovation Center. “Teachers, counselors, principals, even members of the parent community are all welcome to be a part of this journey.”
This collaborative learning program provides unique district-wide opportunities to build and connect with others. Teachers who participate earn three professional development credits, deepen their skills in design thinking, engage in conversations with experts in education, and develop industry connections to help support their projects.
“From start to finish, the support educators give and receive is huge and so valuable to everyone involved,” added Brohm. “Our students are the ultimate beneficiaries of this work, from identifying their needs to implementing the changes that will positively impact their learning.”
Below are past examples of innovative solutions that have been implemented through the Teachers Guild. All of these projects were being put into play as the pandemic hit and so each has been paused at varying degrees.
- UsTube – UsTube is a bank of student-generated, standards-based instructional videos and podcasts used by students and teachers to enhance learning, foster student agency, and develop leadership skills across grade levels. This was originally implemented in 4th grade at Hygiene Elementary and was paused during the hybrid school year. The plan is to begin implementation of this project at Columbine Elementary and potentially other St. Vrain schools later this year.
- Connectopia – Connectopia is a secure app that is designed to help support students as they navigate the middle school experience. The app will allow students to view video tutorials, teacher introduction videos, access their schedule, and receive news and updates about clubs and sports. As of now, a team of St Vrain students have created the user interface for the app as well as the website that populates the data. The design team will start by sharing this with the elementary schools that feed into Longs Peak Middle School, with plans to expand this throughout the district for all rising middle schools in the future.
- Empowering Families with Coffee Talks and Tech Time – At Northridge Elementary, the design team focused on how they could empower their school families to provide support for students so that they can reach their greatest potential and improve school achievement. To this end, they implemented Parent Coffee Talks to better engage families in important dialogue and empower them with better information about what learning in school looks like today. Through conversations and feedback, the team launched with a focus on learning technology, implementing parent Tech Time classes after school, in partnership with Lara Van Matre, Bridging Digital Divides Program Coordinator.
“We are so grateful for the growth mindset our team demonstrated throughout this process, which has consistently been present in our school, but was brought to a higher level during this project,” shared Sherry Legrand, Teacher at St. Vrain’s LaunchED Virtual Academy. “We really had to “hit the wall” as a team to move on to our new idea. It genuinely speaks to our commitment to students rather than ourselves as educators.”
The Teachers Guild begins November 13. Sign up is available through the Office of Professional Development at www.svvsd.org/opd.
Questions? Contact Kristen Brohm, STEM Program Manager for The Innovation Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools at firstname.lastname@example.org