ASDN is a statewide partnership initiated in 1983 with a mission to improve student achievement by providing researched-based professional development programs for Alaska’s teachers and school administrators. Our offerings expand the professional development opportunities available to all educators across the state. The Alaska Staff Development Network (ASDN) is the professional development arm of ACSA.
ASDN courses and events typically have about 5,000 registrants annually. Almost every school district in the state is part of our membership, which offers discounts to all educators within the district. Approximately one-third of the educators who participate in an ASDN activity enroll in more than one event or course over the school year.
- ASDN focuses on priorities established by school districts and professional organizations statewide.
- Key leaders from all districts and past program participants are surveyed annually to help set our professional learning priorities.
- ASDN also forms partnerships and writes grants that bring significant additional resources to school districts and associations in the state.
Our annual needs assessment of over 800 district leaders and teachers statewide sets our priorities for the upcoming school year. Our team looks for researched- based programs and deliver them in a variety of formats to meet the needs of our educators throughout the state.
Professional Learning Online
Since 2007 we have provided ongoing professional development through webinar series offered throughout the school year. An ASDN webinar series is 4-6 webinars on a single topic with a national expert. We offer 8-10 webinar series per year, about 55 webinars total. Recently, the focus has been on effective instruction in ELA and math, social and emotional learning, and positive behavioral supports. Annually, more than 700 educators a year take part in the webinar series which provide an accessible way to learn with leaders in the profession. Our long history with webinar series was great preparation for where we found ourselves in March 2020.
ASDN offers more than 80 online professional learning classes for educators and adds new classes each semester. Additionally, we offer 500-level university credit through our webinar series and conferences. Between the online courses, webinar series and conference credits we facilitated about 3,000 university credit registrations per year which can be used for teacher re-certification. Ceann Murphy is our Program Coordinator and she manages all of the online course and credit registrations through our partners at UAA-PACE and APU.
Response to COVID-19 Building Closures
When COVID-19 hit, ASDN staff knew we had to do more to assist teachers during the fast transition to remote instruction. When school buildings started closing in March we organized 56 no-cost zoom support sessions that took place during the five weeks spanning March 23 – April 20. Topics included: teaching reading and math during remote instruction, ways to communicate with families and provide social and emotional supports over distance, using Google Classroom, facilitating effective online discussions, using virtual field trips and virtual home visits for ECE, and creating videos. These Remote Learning Sessions were truly appreciated by teachers during the pivot to remote learning. We had 3,871 registrations for 56 online workshops. Additionally, as part of this effort we partnered with the Coalition for Education Equity (CEE) for sessions on strategies for teaching reading and math in communities without internet access. In August of 2020, we provided 16 additional no-cost support sessions for our Back to School series. That short series received 400 registrations as teachers prepared to return to the classroom last fall.
Professional Learning Events
RTI/MTSS Effective Instruction Conference
For the past 11 years ASDN has hosted RTI/MTSS Effective Instruction Conference. The 2023 conference will take place in January 28-29, 2023. This conference typically attracts over 1,100 educators from 35+ districts and features nationally and internationally known education leaders. The Anchorage School District designed the first RTI Institute and has been an important partner and co-host for this event.
Each year ASDN hosts a pre-conference that is just for educators from rural districts and small schools. Last year over 350 rural teachers from 14 districts participated. This year the rural pre-conference will be held online on January 21, 2023.
Beautiful and empowering.. each presenter was well prepared and good to listen to, not a waste of my time. Thank You!
Oh my goodness. What a marvelous day! Each keynote and breakout session I attended was pertinent to my needs. I felt so valued!
This was the best RTI conference I’ve attended! I am not sure if it was the need I had right now and the combination of the speakers .. but it was phenomenal. I was blown away, brought to tears, and picked up tools I will be using Monday morning with my students.
–Comments from 2022 Effective Instruction Conference Participants
Alaska School Leadership Institute
In May, we host the Alaska School Leadership Institute which brings together 100+ rural school and district leaders to explore effective instructional leadership in the rural context. The 2023 conference will be the 15th year for this professional learning community of rural school leaders.
Targeted Professional Learning with Individual School Districts
ASDN is the lead organization or a primary partner or in a number of grant projects. These projects allow us to join with school districts for more focused and intensive districtwide professional development efforts. They also bring a significant amount of resources to districts to deliver supplemental services to students and to purchase curriculum and student materials. Learn more about our current projects with Alaska Gateway, Bering Strait, Iditarod, Lower Kuskokwim, Nenana, North Slope, Northwest Arctic, and Yukon Koyukuk School Districts by clicking the Partnerships tab in the top menu bar.
Special Statewide Projects
The Alaska School Leaderships Academy (ASLA) is a unique program is designed to provide early career principals in Alaska (in their first or second year as lead or assistant principal) with a collegial cohort engaged in networking, skill building and mutual support across the state.Fifty early career principals are participating in the first and second year cohorts. The project is led by a consortium including ACSA, the state principals associations, university and DEED representatives. Funding support provided by DEED. ACSA/ASDN is the grant recipient. Contact Jennifer Rinaldi firstname.lastname@example.org or Nicole O’Donnell email@example.com if you have questions.
Over 2,500 Alaskan educators have joined the Alaska Professional Learning Network (AkPLN), an online professional collaboration site that we host. ASDN uses the site for professional learning and a number of districts and teachers are conducting their own professional learning cohorts on AkPLN as well. It continues to grow! Tammy Morris is the engagement manager for AkPLN.
ASDN is the regional partner for the statewide Code.org initiative to expand access to high-quality professional learning for educators interested in teaching computer science. Code.org’s professional development workshops were developed to empower teachers from every type of background to be able to teach computer science and support computational thinking. The Code.org curriculum is the most popular in K-12 computer science, with courses for every grade band. It is used in more than 120 districts, including all 7 largest districts and by over 700,000 teachers. It’s free of charge, and the highest-rated by teachers. The curriculum is aligned with the new Alaska state computer science standards. ASDN has provided professional learning to over 700 teachers over the past three years and approximately 18,000 Alaska students have Code.org accounts. This project is supported by the national Code.org organization, DEED, and generous donations from GCI and Alaska Airlines. Cheryl Bobo is the Regional Manager for Code.org in Alaska.
The Our Alaskan Schools Blog helps get the word out about the great things happening in our schools. This year our blog hosted over 40 distinct Alaskan education stories from across our great state. To celebrate the completion of our second year, here is a recap of some of our most viewed stories about the ‘great things happening in Alaska’s schools’. In The Importance of K-12 libraries in Alaska we highlighted the important contributions of school libraries to the school environment. From LKSD we learned how the GEAR UP grant program is supporting rural college and career readiness. In ‘Timing, Timing, Timing’, we saw how educators from across Alaska came together in March virtually to provide reflection and support for the new era of pandemic teaching. Bowman Elementary showed us how the power of focusing on calm can heal us during challenging times. Amidst the pandemic crisis, we saw how schools across Alaska provided unprecedented support to students, parents and communities. We also celebrated the 50-year tradition of Sea Week around Alaska – learning the history behind this uniquely Alaskan education endeavor. Chief Ivan Blunka School shared how it celebrated its 2020 graduating seniors despite COVID lockdowns. We also got to celebrate student art with the Alaska Council of School Administrators virtual ‘Alaska’s Heart through Student Art’ exhibition. From Seward Elementary we learned how puppets can help nurture conversations about social emotional health. Finally, YKSD told us how they are embracing computer science literacy though district wide #CSEdWeek celebrations.