What They Do Best

A thank you message to educators

Was it a year or a lifetime ago? As schools shut down across the country in March 2020, educators did what they do best — worked late into the night and sent their students home with supplies to learn and a cheerful message: “See you in a few weeks!”

Spoiler alert. They would not see their students in a few weeks.

Little did educators know that they were gearing up for a surreal 15 months. That they would be seeing their students on a screen, meeting pets and siblings as they ambled into the background. That they would hold their own child on one hip while teaching a virtual class. That they would spend hour upon hour researching, experimenting, modeling, and adjusting. That many of the strategies they had spent years mastering now required extra layers and considerations. That their students would struggle with the weight of worry and new responsibilities. That graduation ceremonies and retirement parties – capstones of years of dedication – would be cancelled.

There’s no denying that the end of the ‘19-’20 school year and the entire ‘20-’21 school year were challenging. But, WOW, did educators rise to the occasion and serve their students in innovative ways! They took to blogs, podcasts, and social media to grow their skills and share their insights. They collaborated to create engaging activities for their new environment, and they leaned on one another to help advance their own tech skills so they could better meet the needs of their students. In many ways, the nearly 17,000 school districts of the U.S. became one, learning together at a dizzying pace with a common mission of taking care of our nation’s youth during a crisis.

The Five Star professional development team has had the privilege of working with tens of thousands of educators during this unparalleled time, and we have been energized by their tireless efforts. Unprecedented challenges call for innovative solutions, and our team was left with one question: How can we help? We were immediately inspired by the ingenious adaptations educators made as they transitioned to a virtual classroom. Our team began developing unique PD opportunities to serve the needs of these ambitious teachers. From running engaging Google Meets and collaborating in Google Docs to meeting the SEL needs of hybrid learners and incorporating PBL in digital learning, we used this inspirational energy to create new offerings that we would have never imagined in 2019!

One is the Learning Lab, a self-paced option that leans into the idea of personal choice and provides multiple methods for learning when it is most convenient for teachers. Offering tutorials, lesson plans, live PD conversations, and live chat support, the Learning Lab is a mecca for educators hoping to find support, fresh ideas, and collaboration.

Another awesome PD solution that mixes multiple learning modes is Five Star Launch. Schools can build capacity across the district for remote or hybrid learning through a series that includes both live virtual workshops and micro-credential online courses. With session series specifically designed for administrators (Lead) or teachers or trainers (Teach), participants can join a cohort and gain perspective from other school teams or take on the journey as a district. 

While educators are certainly looking forward to a post-Covid school year, we also want to acknowledge and celebrate that so much of what we learned and created over the past year has truly pushed education forward and made our practice more impactful and equitable than ever before. It will be comforting to return to some of our routines; however, let’s also value the lessons that we can carry forward into our future classrooms – whether they are physical or virtual spaces.

We at Five Star could not be more honored to serve our country’s educators. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your dedication to learning and to your students.

Written by Molly Rupert
Associate Director of Professional Development
Five Star Technology Solutions