At Box Cars and One-Eyed Jacks, we provide exceptional professional development for school districts, schools, and families across North America. We are known for our highly engaging, hands-on workshops for both math and literacy. In addition, we are also a leader in the area of using games as a teaching strategy.
Since March 2020, with the arrival of COVID, we pivoted to meet the challenges that many districts were experiencing. Still providing exceptional hands-on professional development, we are now able to comfortably do so in both virtual and in person settings.
Districts and schools across North America continue to tell us that there are no substitute teachers available. Therefore, teachers can’t be released during regular school hours to attend professional development training. Teachers still need professional development for updating credentials, keeping up to date with curriculum content and pedagogy.
But how can they do this when they can’t be released for a day—or multiple days for it? We’ve had many inquiries from curriculum coordinators asking us for assistance in developing a model that can work for their teachers.
COVID did bring us the amazing virtual platforms (Zoom, Google Meet, Teams, etc.) that allowed our team of consultants the flexibility of working with any district, in any time zone, at any time, to meet a district’s or school’s time constraints. We provided many districts with a series of immediately held, right after school 60 to 90 minute sessions, focused on specific grades or topics.
This allowed teachers to still get home on time for family commitments, while also allowing teachers to accumulate professional development hours. For districts, we typically lined up a series of workshops, scattered every month throughout the year to provide continuity, correlation to curriculum timelines, and supporting the teachers with regular follow up and contact.
We also scheduled other options to align with the teachers’ schedules, including “Muffins and Math” (which took place before school) and Early Dismissal Says (which was scheduled in the early afternoon). With virtual workshops, there are no expenses other than speaking fees. Most importantly, there are no travel costs increasing the overall expense associated with professional development.
Our team has provided 100’s of Pre Kindergarten – Grade 8 training, alleviating this need for substitutes. We can and do support curriculum consultants and administrators with detailed planning to help them meet their professional development goals for their school districts.
For one school district in Rural Manitoba, we provided over two years worth of after school workshops, equalling to 20 sessions at 75 minutes. With virtual, we could travel instantly to the teachers. Without virtual, it would have been cost-prohibitive.
The district scheduled nine math topics for K – 3, nine for 4 – 6, and two for 6 – 8. To encourage attendance right after school, the district purchased all attendees a class kit of resources. These were pre-shipped and used throughout the session by the participants.
The sessions were all hands-on and highly engaging, and the district saw immediate implementation of the strategies and activities. The topics were correlated to where the teachers were in terms of their curriculum mapping and were immediately applicable.
Teachers also completed the workshop with plenty of time to get home! From the district’s point of view, they saw teachers implementing what they learned and students benefitting. It was a positive experience all round during the almost two years of COVID instruction.
The model was so effective for our team that it’s one we still recommend to all consultants who tell us that Subs are an issue.
“John and Jane are real gems to work with. They have worked with teachers, students and Parents in our division. This past year, we got to experience their expertise through Zoom. In a new era due to restrictions, they were quickly able to adapt their professional development sessions to the Zoom format.”