A behind-the-scenes look at the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development’s (ASCD) COVID response strategy with Fara Francis, CIO
All businesses and organizations are striving to find ways to safely reopen, but arguably no sector is feeling the same intense time crunch as education. The COVID response strategy and emergency measures that schools used to get through the end of last spring worked with varying degrees of success, but in the face of an entire school year of distance learning, in-person teaching or a hybrid of the two, educators and administrators are racing to find more manageable and effective solutions.
Supporting educators on the front lines of this sprint is the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). With a membership of over 110,000 superintendents, principals, teachers, and advocates across the globe, the ASCD’s mission is to help educators meet their critical goal: achieve excellence in learning, teaching and leading so that every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged.
Crucial to accomplishing that goal, explains Fara Francis, ASCD’s Chief Information Officer, is the tactical deployment of technology. “Technology plays a key role in education—and within our organization. We use technology to create and distribute informative content, as well as to make connections that foster community building.”
Here are some of the innovative ways that the ASCD is helping K-12 school officials as they prepare to ring the bell (virtual or real) for the start of a new school year.
TURNING EMPATHY INTO ACTION
“I can’t imagine how hard it is for educators teaching kids in the K-12 space when the students are in multiple locations and not in one classroom,” says Francis. “We developed a series of professional development courses and webinars on the topics of social emotional learning, classroom management, and effective instructional practices all geared toward teaching and learning in a distance learning environment. Social and emotional dynamics are very different when teachers and students are no longer physically in the classroom so we created these resources along with others to support all educators to be the best they can be for kids and families during these challenging times .”
The ASCD has organized a broad range of materials to support educators as they endeavor to provide quality learning experiences for children in our new distance learning/hybrid environment. “We create digital tools of learning and provide them to educators so that they can expand their knowledge and retain their professional certifications, Francis explains.”
These materials, many of which are free and available to members and non-members alike, consist of articles, videos, white papers and even a special edition of Educational Leadership magazine, devoted entirely to “A New Reality: Getting Remote Learning Right.”
A POWERFUL CORE
Of course, teachers and students aren’t the only ones who are no longer in the same physical location—the staff of the ASCD is dispersed as well. “We had to immediately shift to full-time teleworking,” explains Francis. Despite the size of the organization, the process was as simple as people grabbing their laptops and monitors and heading home. “The move went extremely smoothly thanks to the technology we already had in place—Personify. To support this transition, we’re even upgrading our technology with them at the end of August.”
Francis says that the ASCD’s ability to operate effectively under historically challenging conditions is made possible by having a reliable and versatile AMS in their technology stack. “Personify is our data source of truth, and as the association pushes forward on our digital transformation journey, it will be the central hub that we integrate all other third-party applications. It is critically important as we position ourselves to be more data-driven and more data-focused to make informed business decisions such as delivering appropriate curated content that our members need most urgently.”
For Francis and the team at ASCD, the pandemic has given their work a renewed sense of purpose. “Helping our members and the community they serve is our North Star. We understand the incredible complexity of the challenges educators are working to solve on behalf of kids and families and are committed to doing everything we can as a non-profit membership association to actively support them. Personify helps us understand our members—we can track their interests and identify trends which guide us to create opportunities for growth and development in their careers. ”
Francis says the ASCD is energized with their COVID response strategy. The team is ready to help as educators ready themselves for an unprecedented school year. “We’re optimistic about the future of education and our role in it. We want to continue to make a big impact on the lives of kids in the K-12 space and, notwithstanding the pandemic, we remain steadfast in our mission to utilize innovative technology to provide quality content and services to educators wherever they are in their careers.”
TOOLS AND RESOURCES
We know this challenging time has created new and unique challenges in engaging with members, managing financials and driving your organization forward. Personify is committed to helping you adapt and emerge from COVID-19 or any crisis, more connected and resilient than ever. Our trusted solutions help you manage during and through these times with digital connections, virtual programming, a single source of truth for your data, and peace of mind for your members.
Learn more about how associations and nonprofits are leveraging technology to develop a resiliency strategy to emerge from COVID-19 stronger than ever with this On-Demand Webinar.
ASCD profile first published on Associations Now blog on August 13, 2020 as part of an ongoing series profiling the COVID response strategy of Associations. Republished with permission, all rights reserved.