Clayton County Public Schools
Clayton County Public Schools Benefits from Customized Professional Development
The 5th largest school district in Georgia, has benefited from the support of Boxlight-EOS Education professional development, forging a strong collaborative relationship to assist CCPS teachers
“When our teachers knew they were going to be supported by an actual person that could be side-by-side with them, they were definitely excited and willing to use the (Mimio) equipment.”
April Mayo - Director of Instructional Technology Clayton County Public Schools Academy
The mission of Clayton County Public Schools (Jonesboro, GA) is “to empower scholars to achieve academic, professional, and personal goals by providing equitable access and experiences.” These experiences include consistent use of technology that will help them “build skills in literacy, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration.”
Prior to having a partnership with Boxlight, Clayton County Public Schools (CCPS) had a considerable amount of classroom technology, but it was not being fully utilized at a high operational level. There were teachers that felt the classroom technology wasn’t necessary to make an impact on their instructional practices. Also at that time, there was not an Instructional Technology team that specifically supported teachers to use the technology in the classrooms. This being the case, CCPS did not see the desired return on investment - a very expensive investment at that. The technology – ceiling-mounted projectors and interactive whiteboards - was also becoming outdated and out of warranty. This became an additional burden on time, effort, and energy for the Department of Technology and also caused frustration for teachers.
April Mayo, CCPS Director of Instructional Technology, believes that the lack of a training and support plan may have played a role in the lack of technology utilization. “Years ago, digital classroom equipment was purchased without having a plan in place for supporting teachers to use the technology. The teacher’s job is to teach, not be the technology expert,”
Mayo declared. Mayo believes that a large investment in technology necessitates a plan in place for teacher training and ongoing support to ensure the successful implementation of tech equipment, thus supporting instruction.
Because CCPS needed a refresh of technology, they invested in Boxlight Mimio products including ProColor interactive displays, MimioStudio™ classroom software, MimioView™ document cameras, and other tech equipment to support instruction, as well as professional development provided by Boxlight-EOS Education. Besides providing MimioStudio certification training, Boxlight-EOS designed programs to grow and advance teacher technology skills which includes a dedicated Digital Learning Specialists team.
Dr. Alex Leis, Senior VP of Professional Development for Boxlight-EOS, stated, “All of the support programs we offer CCPS teachers are aligned and complement one another, and all District digital resources are supported by our DLS team. With this comprehensive partnership, teachers can choose to learn in their preferred modality to meet their individual needs. Because we provide a variety of training opportunities knowing that teachers’ comfort-levels with technology vary, each can receive the right level of support.”
Boxlight-EOS Education has designed professional development that includes online courses, group sessions (in-person and virtual), individual coaching, and more. The EOS team wants to help teachers grow more confident and empowered by their newly learned skills and are given the option to choose content and delivery method that best suits them and their learning preferences.
The CCPS instructional technology team supports a variety of digital resources such as the digital classroom, a refreshed tech environment of Boxlight Mimio solutions.
The digital classroom includes a 75-inch interactive display, which entailed the most work since each of the districts 3200+ classrooms had one of these cutting-edge flat panels installed. Installations were done overnight so that when teachers walked into their classrooms in the morning, the displays were ready for them to explore. The Digital Learning Specialist team was onsite, going to each room to help teachers log into their displays so that they could use the displays right away.
Each school in the district has a Digital Learning Specialist that is available to assist and answer questions on any of the Boxlight Mimio solutions. The dedicated support for each school helped increase teacher confidence using the new classroom technology, a vast improvement over years prior. Mayo stated, “When teachers knew they were going to be supported by an actual person that could be side-by-side with them, they were definitely excited and willing to use the equipment.”
The CCPS IT team regularly collected survey data from their teachers. They discovered that at the end of the first year of having the Boxlight Mimio solutions implemented in classrooms with ongoing support from the Digital Learning Specialist team, there was a 28% increase in utilization in comparison to the previous classroom technology solution. Mayo declared, “It is my belief that this increase in utilization is purely because of the support and ongoing training we’ve provided to our teachers.”
In addition to the digital classroom hardware, CCPS teachers are expected to implement the MimioStudio classroom software to optimize the use of the overall solution. Besides the Digital Learning Specialist team, the district offers their teachers multiple opportunities to earn MimioSuite certifications. While much of the certification process is self-paced, there is also a live instructor who works closely with teachers and reviews their work. Mayo commented - Digital Learning Specialists provide ongoing support while teachers are earning these certifications. Teachers have multiple ways to get support and extra instructional time if needed. These certifications give our teachers the skills needed to not only utilize the MimioStudio software but also to see how these tools actually support instruction.
CCPS leadership has also observed a change in how students view the digital classroom and the technology available to them. Mayo observed, “Before the pandemic, I think students viewed technology in the classroom as a treat or reward when they got to use it.” More often than not, students did not get the access to technology as often as they might’ve liked. After the pandemic, this changed considerably. The district had already started to implement Extending Learning Beyond the Classroom (ELBC), a one-toone initiative, pre-pandemic. After school closures and a move to remote learning for the close of the school year (2020), the ELBC project was accelerated and 3rd through 12th graders were issued their own device. The older devices were refurbished and issed to Kindergarten through 2nd grades. Since CCPS has opened schools, all K-2nd have access to a device in their classrooms, providing a one-to-one experience; 3rd12th graders continue to utilize their issued devices. For all intents and purposes, CCPS is a one-to-one district and students now understand that technology is more than a “reward” or “treat” - technology is a necessity.
“If the utilization of tools is increasing, then it is clear to me that the teacher’s level of confidence and attitude towards digital resources are a large improvement over previous years.”
A few years ago, Clayton County Public Schools became a Google district, implementing the Google for Education suite of tools. To help teachers maximize their use of Google tools, the district used a ‘phase-in’ approach to implementation. First, they started with one teacher at each site. After receiving feedback from this initial cadre, they made changes to the implementation plan. Once they were ready for all teachers to use Google tools, the CCPS team knew they needed support in place. They recruited from their district Technology Liaisons (TLs) who they train and support. This support enables the TLs to redeliver training to their individual site staff. Boxlight-EOS plays a part in helping TLs assist their staff. Said Mayo, “The Technology Liaison program would not be possible without our relationship with Boxlight-EOS. BoxlightEOS develops the training materials for the TLs, provides training and multiple supports for the TLs and their redelivery of Google content. Boxlight-EOS also conducts a monthly Google webinar and monthly Google virtual playground for all Clayton County Public Schools’ teachers.”
The efforts of the TLs on their sites are complemented by the webinars and virtual playgrounds that go beyond what is included in each TL’s training sessions. The webinars and virtual playgrounds help inspire teachers to practice new skills in a safe, digital environment. When teachers take advantage of these training opportunities, the use of the Google suite of tools increases. “If the utilization of the tools is increasing, then it is clear to me that the teacher’s level of confidence and attitude towards digital resources are a large improvement over previous years,” said Mayo.
CCPS teachers are also able to reach out to their site DLS for additional support using the Google for Education suite of tools. For teachers, the multiple avenues of support - TLs, DLSs, webinars, virtual playgrounds – certainly paid off during the pandemic and remote learning. The training was critical during virtual instruction.individual site staff. BoxlightEOS plays a part in helping TLs assist their staff. Said Mayo, “The Technology Liaison program would not be possible without our relationship with Boxlight-EOS. Boxlight-EOS develops the training materials for the TLs, provides training and multiple supports for the TLs and their redelivery of Google content.”
Having continuous support from the BoxlightEOS DLS programs has resulted in a twofold benefit for teachers. Teachers are more likely to feel comfortable with the classroom technology and thus use the technology more regularly. Because classroom technology is being utilized to support instruction, instructional time is maximized – students receive immediate or timely feedback, engaging in lessons and activities more actively.
Currently, training leads teachers to use resources beyond the surface level. For example, Google Forms can be used for more than simple survey questions or quizzes, and Google Slides can be used for interactive lessons instead of basic presentations.
While the support that CCPS teachers receive has been consistent and provided in multiple ways – shoulder-to-shoulder, small and large groups, online and selfpaced - it has evolved over the last couple of years. The district has moved past basic “how-to” training to training aligned with the district’s high-impact practices. T
he CCPS Instructional Technology team shows how technology resources maximize instructional time, can provide feedback to students in a timely manner, and will increase student engagement with instruction. To read about how Clayton County Public Schools refreshed classroom technology, click here: CCPS and digital learning success. The relationship between Clayton County Public Schools and Boxlight-EOS Education has not only evolved over the years but has continued to build because of strong communication and collaboration. Boxlight-EOS is proud of the work it has accomplished and continues to design customized content and programs for CCPS educators.