Schoolwires and Panama-Buena Vista USD Innovate New Website Solution to Train Teachers on a Dime

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Teachers' Lounge subsite houses curriculum links, videos, support, programs, and online chat for cost-effective teacher training.

When Panama-Buena Vista Unified School District’s new superintendent made the bold declaration – “We’re going 1-to-1. And we’re going big with 6,000 laptops to be distributed to students.” – the three educational technology staff members faced some big challenges:

1.    How do three people effectively support 23 schools, 18,000 students, and 900 teachers?
2.    How do they ensure the district would be ready for common core?
3.    How do they avoid producing costly, behemoth 3-ring curriculum binders for teachers?
4.    How do they ensure consistent training across 23 sites?

To find a workable solution, staff members at the district reached out to Schoolwires, their hosting and CMS provider, to brainstorm around solutions to these challenges. According to Brad Grumbles, the district’s Coordinator of Curriculum, Assessment, and Instructional Technology, “Teachers teach in isolation. They want to learn from their peers and view each other in action. But it costs money to hire substitutes so that teachers can be out of their classes observing others. We needed a solution that would provide the opportunity for teachers to virtually visit their peer’s classrooms. Our challenge – we needed a cost-effective solution to a potentially expensive problem.”

“Schoolwires was proud to collaborate with Panama-Buena Vista USD to come up with a cost-savings training subsite called the Teachers’ Lounge on the district’s Centricity2 website. Using the features and functionality offered through our platform, such as blogging, video streaming, discussion boards, web link libraries, and social media feeds, the school district has created a training website that truly maximizes teachers’ time, efficiently provides consistent training across the district, and saves the district thousands of dollars by going digital,” said Christiane Crawford, President and CEO of Schoolwires, Inc.

The Teachers’ Lounge was rolled out the fall of the 2014/2015 school year. The educational technology team of Brad Grumbles, Steve Johnson, and Kathy Smith work tirelessly to develop the website that provides curriculum links, instructional videos, shortcuts to third-party systems, district assessment programs, on-boarding information for new teachers, contact with support, and instant access to an online chat. And the results have been phenomenal. Teachers are collaborating and crowd sourcing. There are over 6,000 hits per month. And the team estimates around 75% of the teachers use it on a regular basis.

Additionally, the Teachers’ Lounge has become a resource hub for surrounding districts and the County Office of Education. And the district’s educational technology team is happy to share resources, training material, and best practices not only internally, but with the education community at large. According to the team, “It’s a good feeling.”

In fact, Schoolwires and the district have once again collaborated to write a success story that provides more details so that other districts can learn and gain invaluable ideas. The story has just been released this week. To learn more details about Panama Buena Vista USD’s Teachers’ Lounge, download your copy of their great story today!

About Schoolwires
Schoolwires is dedicated to K-12 education, and to the people who are part of every local school community — students, families, teachers, administrators, and supporters of education. From the beginning, we’ve believed that a successful school district is a product of total community involvement. That’s why our mobile and Web-based solutions are expressly designed to help you connect with the information, services and people you need to achieve your district goals. For more than 10 years, our intuitive technologies have been helping administrators, educators, students and parents, communicate and collaborate like never before — to come together around success. Today, nearly 1,800 districts and education entities and more than 11 million users in the U.S. and China rely on our content management system, mobile solutions, and safe collaborative learning community to drive engagement in the classroom, locally and across the globe. We’re proud to be a part of that. And we remain committed to helping K-12 communities extend their local reach and transcend the boundaries of their districts so that individuals everywhere can achieve their full potential.

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Marc Rubner
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