Deeper Learning in the Time of COVID-19: Supporting Educators’ Professional Development in Virginia (Part 2 of 3)

Deeper Learning in the Time of COVID-19: Supporting Educators’ Professional Development in Virginia (Part 2 of 3)
Virtual via GoToWebinar

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This is the second installment of a three-part webinar series on Deeper Learning in the Time of COVID-19. To view the entire series, click here.

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In part 2 of 3 in AYPF’s Deeper Learning in the Time of COVID-19 webinar series, we examined how high-quality professional development and training can be supported through alignment between Virginia’s Commonwealth Learning Partnership and the VA Department of Education. This offered a model for consideration in investing in the education workforce and prioritizing a focus on equity.

The Commonwealth Learning Partnership is a network of education nonprofit organizations and schools of education across Virginia that share a collective goal to modernize the Commonwealth’s K-12 education system. These partners are focused on issues of equity, engagement, and empowerment.

Participants heard from Virginia State Superintendent James Lane about reimagining schooling in the state and the value of the collaboration with the Partnership; from Leah Walker, Director of Equity and Community Engagement, about how an ongoing focus on equity is currently serving recovery planning efforts; from Gena Keller, Director of the Commonwealth Learning Partnership, about specific strategies being offered to educators during this critical time, including a focus on cultural proficiency; and from Stephanie Krauss, Senior Director, Jobs for the Future, on the viability of these kinds of partnerships and lessons learned to date.

Panelists include:

  • James Lane, State Superintendent, Virginia Department of Education
  • Leah Walker, Director of Equity and Community Engagement, Virginia Department of Education
  • Gena Keller, Director, Commonwealth Learning Partnership
  • Stephanie Malia Krauss, Senior Director, Jobs for the Future

About AYPF’s Deeper Learning in the Time of COVID-19 Webinar Series:

Since the outbreak of coronavirus, the educational landscape has been transformed. With the majority of schools closed throughout the nation, in many cases student learning has shifted online, highlighting the myriad opportunities and challenges of remote instruction. Teachers had to adapt almost overnight to virtual classrooms, and were asked to teach students in a way they had not necessarily been trained in.  Students needed to become accustomed to independent learning, either online or from compiled paper packets of worksheets. In a number of schools that have engaged in deeper learning for many years, the transition for teachers and students to this new reality has proceeded more smoothly.

In this 3-part webinar series, AYPF will highlight districts and schools that have experienced fewer challenges in continued learning, and the factors that contributed to a more seamless transition. These are schools that have emphasized the interrelated competencies of deeper learning: mastery of rigorous core academic content, critical thinking and problem solving, teamwork and collaboration, effective communication, learning how to learn, and cultivation of an academic mindset.  As the pandemic unfolds, the explicit attention devoted to honing these competencies (sometimes referred to as essential skills, or success skills, et. al.) has helped students and teachers as they adapt their learning to ever-changing conditions.

Some questions we will consider include:

  • Why are student/teacher relationships so critical to the learning agenda?
  • What is the importance of having students engaged with meaningful projects?
  • How can students be supported as they take on responsibility for their own learning and develop their agency?
  • What do these early observations of how education is changing mean for the larger conversation around how best we can engage learners in their education, what the role of teachers is within this learning journey, and how we can think more creatively about all the possible venues for learning?


The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.