Harrisonburg City School leaders reflect on success of professional development resources for city teachers

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 1:12 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Harrisonburg City Public School students continue to learn online. While they had a later start this year so teachers could get ready for virtual learning.

Because of how different teaching was going to be this semester, offering resources to teachers across the country was very important and at Tuesday nights school board meeting, leaders discussed the positive impact this had on city teachers and staff.

140 synchronous and asynchronous virtual sessions were available to HCPS teachers and staff on a variety of topics tailored to this new way of socially-distanced learning.

Focus areas not only included how to effectively deliver distance learning but also navigating difficult conversations with students and supporting the social and emotional needs of students.

Teachers learned about tough topics like mental health awareness, addressing anxiety related to coronavirus, and building a strong classroom community, all while working remotely.

“It also gave some ideas for [teachers] to think about as far as helping students build relationships with each other in a safe, virtual environment," Joy Blosser, the Director of Federal Programs and Teacher Development at HCPS, said. "We had 160 staff members participate in that one, so we had a lot of staff members participating in our social and emotional health sessions.”

She said in the board’s Zoom meeting that the division also felt the need to offer training on navigating difficult conversations on race, racism, and the Black Lives Matter movement before the fall semester began.

Professional development happened over the course of 3 weeks before classes began on Aug. 31.

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