By Lauren Ramers
Summer is my favorite AVID season. While some teachers are enjoying their much-deserved hiatus from the classroom, AVID educators are gearing up for Summer Institute. In 2010, AVID trained nearly 20,000 participants, and each year, Summer Institute participants are motivated and energized as a result of their transformative experiences led by the quality of their staff developers. In fact last year, AVID Center received its best Summer Institute evaluations ever. I’m not at all surprised. I have always believed that my AVID summer colleagues rank among the finest educators in the whole world. Beginning in June, 350 AVID staff developers will spend part of their summer working with nearly 20,000 educators from around the world to increase the educational opportunities for all students by providing instruction in AVID’s powerful college readiness strategies. What we sacrifice in personal time, we gain in powerful relationships, created as a result of courageous conversations around issues of equity, access, and college readiness.
I am especially excited for the 2011 season because it marks an important transformation for AVID Summer Institutes. This year, AVID will be adding value by introducing a blended learning experience to the San Diego Summer Institutes. Why? The research supports it. Just what is blended learning? Simply put, it combines face-to-face professional development with e-learning. AVID Center is not the only major educational group to introduce this concept. In his March 4 blog post, “College Board Makes Right Move…” Rob Gira, Executive Vice President of AVID, quotes Trevor Packer from the College Board, “Without really strong professional development, learning outcomes will not shift upward in a meaningful way. It’s not enough for a teacher to go to a five-day summer institute or weekend workshop…we’re really focused right now on rolling out a new professional development model that would serve teachers where they are during the academic year at their own pace.”
In order to strengthen AVID’s professional development, two years ago, AVID Center brought together a team (see photo below) to develop powerful online interactions linked to the Summer Institute strands and site team work. This has been an exemplary learning experience for all of us, and we are eager to share it with our AVID clients.
In typical AVID fashion, blended learning is being phased in during this year’s Summer Institutes to ensure quality and usability. The Science and Refining strands will have e-learning modules in the 5-day Institutes, and at AVID’s new 3-day institutes in San Diego (1 and 2) all strands will be supported with online interactions to be completed by individual participants before and after Summer Institute. Educators will arrive at Institutes “ready to learn” because they will have experienced an AVID “launch” to prepare them for their strand and site team experience. Throughout the fall and winter, they will then experience “boosts” designed to reinforce their learning and help them apply the concepts. We are confident this new delivery model will improve our ability to meet the needs of AVID’s educators, increase the availability of our superior training year-round, and demonstrate our commitment to AVID’s mission.
NOTE: Summer Institute is AVID's annual professional development training where contracted sites come to learn the latest in AVID methodologies and strategies to successfully implement AVID in their schools. This year, AVID Center will host eight Summer Institutes in six cities (Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Orlando, Sacramento and San Diego).
About the author
Lauren Ramers has been an AVID educator for 14 years. She has served as a high school AVID elective teacher, coordinator, Summer Institute staff developer, English Language Arts Write Path trainer, and a trainer-of-trainers. Currently, she develops online interactions for the Blended Learning initiative and assists the Director of Professional Development in preparing staff developers for the transition to Blended Learning.