Teaching and Learning Center keeps two feet in the present, one eye on the future

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September 27, 2021 by HCDE-Texas

As teachers and students resume in-person learning, representatives from divisions of Harris County Department of Education (HCDE) provide inside perspectives about their work and what it means to them in a back-to-school series. Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) director, Andrea Segraves, shares her outlook for new and continuous projects from the division in the year ahead.

Andrea Segraves speaks to members of the Harris County Department of Education Scholastic Arts Leadership Team at the Houston Arboretum, September 28, 2017.

How has the TLC been preparing for the new year?

AS: “The TLC team has worked hard to expand our thinking and our services. We spent an extensive amount of time meeting and talking with educators across the state to determine what professional learning options for teachers would create the most impact for students. We have many exciting plans to offer targeted, effective, ongoing, and relevant professional development.”

What programs or collaborations in the works this year?

AS: “We remain committed to strengthening relationships with districts across the county and responding to real-time needs. Right now, we’re working with Goose Creek CISD and Alief, Aldine, and Dayton independent school districts to support first-year principals through a program we kicked off this summer called Leadership Matters. We look forward to seeing the sustained impact it creates. Of course, we are excited for our annual Early Childhood Winter Conference—the second largest of its kind in the state—and we hope to build on its success by launching cohorts of ongoing learning from this year’s event. We’re also keeping an eye on national trends. This year, our goal is to ensure educators have the knowledge, skills, and support they need to genuinely accelerate learning and stop the widening ‘COVID achievement gap.’ At the same time, we want to ensure we tend to teachers’ and students’ social and emotional needs as much as their academic needs. Our curriculum directors are leading several collaborations to provide districts with the resources they need in the current environment, including more flexible professional learning opportunities.”

From your perspective as a former principal and instructional leader, how are the services TLC provides critical to the districts HCDE serves?

AS: “As a principal, I would have loved to have had a team like ours meeting with me to say, ‘How can we fill in the gaps? Where can we provide support?’ Being a teacher and an educational leader is extremely hard work, but it brings the richness of life experience. The personalized professional development TLC provides takes this into account and weaves opportunities for real-life application. That level of support would have lightened my load so I could give more of myself to my campus, students, and teachers.”

What are you most excited about for the new school year?

AS: “I am most excited about the work we are doing collectively as a team to plan and build out new programs that open possibilities for new learning in new spaces. It is so rewarding when we work with district-level teams, campus teams, or campus leaders to create customized plans and see the successful outcomes that impact their work in significant ways.”

Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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