McAllen ISD, McAllen, Texas

How to Train 1,700 Teachers with 4 Tech Specialists
By: | January 6, 2019
District Name: McAllen ISD
District State: Texas
District Website: mcallenisd.org

Facing a districtwide 1-to-1 implementation that involved multiple platforms and 27,000 devices, leaders at McAllen ISD realized they needed to provide training for more than 1,700 teachers on 33 campuses. The challenge: having only four instructional technology specialists to provide all the support.

Training began for cadres of teachers in fall 2015 with more than 50 after-school and Saturday training sessions. Each middle and high school campus had between six and 15 teachers receive PD over the course of a three-day boot camp. Those teachers then went out to help train their colleagues.

The district also launched an online digital badging program that allows teachers to access trainings anytime, anywhere. Teachers can collect more than 60 badges in subjects such as coding, makerspaces, app building, robotics, software integration, and use of online and social media platforms ranging from Adobe to YouTube.

Advanced badges can be earned in project-based learning, flipped classrooms and gamification. Teachers create instructional activities based on a badge, then evaluate and reflect on the experience.

To support more PD over the summer, the district hosts TECHnovate, a technology conference with edtech speakers and presenters. The event features dozens of hands-on edtech workshops on drones, design thinking and movie-making, among other subjects. More than 500 educators attended the most recent event.

All the district’s teachers have received training since 2015, and now nearly 98 percent actively use digital platforms in their classrooms. Going forward, the district is looking to expand the digital badging program to encourage additional PD.