Teacher Resource Portal FAQ
Teacher Resource Portal
Frequently Asked Questions
About the Final Product (the Portal)
- What will the Portal look like?
- Will Portal materials be mandatory in schools throughout the network?
- How does the Portal differ from Athena, SharePoint, or the GH Faculty Resource Website?
- How will people eventually access the Portal?
About Team Member Expectations/Opportunities
- When the Portal is up and running, what opportunities might be available for additional coaching opportunities for any teachers using the Portal materials?
- What does the commitment and work-life balance look like for curriculum authors?
- What does the commitment and work-life balance look like for PD authors and Beta Team Members?
- How do teachers get involved in these teams, or where does the Beta Team and course authorship overlap?
- Will there be in-person meetings?
- Who all is on this team?
About Application Process
- Are you expecting a certain amount of time at Great Hearts for applicants?
- I’m interested in donating my lesson plans. What would I need to do to get my lesson plans thrown into the mix?
- When should I apply? When will my course be produced?
What will the Portal look like?
Answer: Watch this video to get a sense of the look and feel of the Portal.
Will Portal materials be mandatory in schools throughout the network?
Answer: The question of being “mandatory” needs to be answered at a variety of levels.
At this time, the national curriculum team will invite, but not require, any region, academy, or teacher to make use of the materials. However, the national professional development office will use these materials in training new faculty at the network level.
Executive Directors, Headmasters, Department heads and master teachers have the ability to mandate all or some of the materials, at varying levels of depth, for the folks they serve.
The focus of the portal is on curating, developing, and maintaining the best possible curriculum and professional development resources for teachers. We recognize (and honor) that across the network, there are a few different great versions of our courses. In building, the Portal team will work to showcase a version that is aligned philosophically and can best be replicated and supported. We expect it will be most valuable for newer schools and teachers who do not currently have those resources in place. However, all teachers should have access to the Portal, and we hope that certain topics and materials will be relevant for and used by everyone (especially some training topics).
How does the Portal differ from Athena, SharePoint, or the GH Faculty Resource Website?
Answer: The Faculty Resource Website is excellent for sharing the resources it does, and it will remain in place, but does not have the capacity for the breadth and depth of the Teacher Resource Portal. Regarding SharePoint, we’ve found that, over time, teachers have used a variety of means to share lesson plans, and that is a good thing. The Teacher Resource Portal is hosted on a platform called Brightspace, and is not intended to be a document sharing service for teaching materials. It will be home to canonical lesson materials and trainings that (while not perfect and will require conversation and revision over time) will be curated and based on the wisdom and expertise of our network of teachers.
How will people eventually access the Portal?
Answer: When everything is up and running, all active GH teachers will have personalized logins (and could be automatically signed in through their email accounts). They will see curriculum and training relevant to their teaching assignments on their dashboard. New teachers will also see onboarding training connected to NFO, accessing information soon after they sign an offer sheet. Curriculum and resources will be organized on the portal, and teachers will have access to a space with learning modules with the overall philosophy and pedagogy as it pertains to their subject, and then some very specific helps to their content in the curriculum.
About Team Member Expectations/Opportunities
When the Portal is up and running, what opportunities might be available for additional coaching opportunities for any teachers using the Portal materials?
Answer: At this time, we are focusing our hiring on the initial production of the courses. To some degree, the professional development side of the Portal should provide opportunities for teacher-learners to hone their understanding or delivery of the content itself. However, we also expect the Portal to spark and provide fodder for conversation among our teachers about the ways we do things, and we have lots of ideas about how to continue that conversation, and are open to continuing it.
What does the commitment and work-life balance look like for curriculum authors?
Answer: We want to be totally up front that this is a significant commitment—especially for Curriculum Authors. While a singular author writes the curriculum materials, our authors do not simply take their own lesson plans and put them on the portal—there is a large revision component during which they incorporate feedback on content and structural changes from conversations with Course Leads and the Beta Team.
Regarding the work-life balance, for our current curriculum authors, it varies by their workload. Veteran teachers who have been teaching the same courses for years find they have plenty of time to commit to authorship, while newer teachers and teachers with heavier course loads feel the crunch a bit more. We found that teachers who took on some of the task during the summer have had an easier time managing the course development during the school year. However, it is important to keep in mind that this team is admirably taking on an impressive challenge–to complete these prototype courses in a year. We’ve taken this into consideration for our development of the next set of courses, so the teams beginning in 2020-2022 will have two years to develop their course, including two full summers in place.
What does the commitment and work-life balance look like for PD authors and Beta Team Members?
Answer: Folks on the PD Team will need to work with Curriculum Authors a bit to ensure that the PD modules they create are aligned to the curriculum. However, the time commitment can be much more flexible for a PD Author. If signing up for one PD module, the commitment might be 10-20 hours in total. Signing up to produce more modules will mean more time (but the time becomes more efficient).
Beta Team Members are asked to attend 1-2 meetings online throughout the year, but their time is much more flexible. Materials are always sent out, and we ask that Beta Team members try out a handful of lesson materials across the year and give feedback. However, participants can jump in or defer as their schedule allows.
How do teachers get involved in these teams, or where does the Beta Team and course authorship overlap?
Answer: The Portal content may all be written by a single person, but they are not operating in a vacuum. Teachers on the Beta Team serve as an advisory council, to look at the things being provided and offer feedback about what can or should be included, pilot lessons, and even offer their own materials. Anyone is welcome to join a Beta Team, and we strongly encourage every academy to have at least one, if not several, representatives on a Beta Team.
Additionally, all authors work under a Course Lead who manages the development team and process, and work with authors to ensure consistent format, both in content and document styles.
Will there be in-person meetings?
Answer: There may be a few meetings that may be in-person or utilize Zoom sessions to account for distance. Meetings will depend on how much communication is necessary up front to get consistent on the team’s approach to developing course documents and materials.
Who all is on this team?
Answer: At the broadest level, the Course Lead orchestrates the team and manages the development process. They communicate with project leadership, Curriculum Authors, PD Authors, and the Beta Team. The Beta Team is made up of volunteers who would like to join the discussion regarding the curriculum and PDs being developed, either by piloting lessons, providing feedback, or donating their lesson materials–we would like every school to have a representative on a Beta Team. For each course, there is one Curriculum Author, and there may be several PD Authors. (Multiple PD Authors may take on individual topics within the same course to create training modules.)
About Application Process
Are you expecting a certain amount of time at Great Hearts for applicants?
Answer: The roles we seek to fill vary in their responsibilities; there is no hard and fast number of years we require for applicants. Years of experience and the strength of the sample lesson plans you submit will be taken into consideration.
I’m interested in donating my lesson plans. What would I need to do to get my lesson plans thrown into the mix?
Answer: In the initial stages of course production, the team meets to determine what all needs to be included in the various pieces of the course (unit overviews, lesson overviews, assessments, etc.). As materials are required, there will be ways of submitting model and particular resources.
When should I apply? When will my course be produced?
Answer: Apply now! All courses will be starting in 2020, and most teams will be up and running in the spring of 2020.