“KickUp saves us so, so much time. I don’t have to wait for data to come in from six different sources anymore: the plan, goals and progress for a single teacher or an entire school are at my fingertips.”
In 2015, San Antonio-area Comal Independent School District launched Comal U, a new multi-day PD institute providing summer learning hours for each of the district’s 1,300 teachers. KickUp worked with Comal to build out a custom event management and credit tracking system aligning with both state policy requirements and Comal’s own curriculum. With the time saved seamlessly managing, tracking and coordinating a high-volume event series, Comal U added 15 more sessions the very first year — and counting.
Comal ISD is a fast-growing Central Texas district serving over 24,000 students from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. With an average of 1000 new students and 300 new teachers — many of them brand-new to the profession — per year, the district’s teaching staff needed to be laser-focused on continuous improvement. In 2015, Comal decided to take their existing year-round PD cycle one step further by hosting a summer institute that aligned with Comal educators’ needs and goals. That event became the yearly Comal U, two summer mini-conferences packed with over 200 sessions across grade levels, subjects and learning domains.
Comal U’s personalized educator learning experience was popular and effective, but the added complexity meant more work for the district team. Staff spent hours a week on coordination alone: managing signups, taking phone calls, tracking state PD requirements, and combing through inboxes to chase down attendee data. A hybrid of two traditional event management systems was enough at first, but by 2018 the team knew they needed a central hub for educators, coaches and administrators.
Comal began to search for a new platform with three primary goals in mind:
Working with Comal administrators, KickUp customized its professional development management system (PDMS) to align with both district educators’ needs and statewide PD requirements. The system made its debut at Comal U 2019 to resounding success, with administrators of all levels using the platform’s easy reporting and detailed transcripts to seamlessly report back to the state. Educators and administrators alike can easily track registration, course completion, and credits across campuses and learning domains, and align summer PD choices to their personal or school-level T-TESS objectives.
“We’ve seen a lot of success in leadership development too,” says Schramm. “Since Comal U’s sessions are peer-led, finding the best teacher leaders is crucial. With KickUp, principals can easily say ‘Here are the areas of need, here are teachers who’ll knock it out of the park, here’s the plan to get them connected.'”
Energized by 2018’s gains, the district rolled out a new professional learning framework and accompanying course suite this year. They’re looking forward to listing those events on Comal U’s KickUp page so teachers can browse the events and choose their best array of options. With the ability to fulfill credits through off-site learning opportunities, Comal also plans to open up exciting new ways for teachers to fulfill their Exchange Day credits.
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