Behind the Cube: Brandon Harvey, Senior National Literacy Specialist
Published May 21, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected schools around the world with educators and students quickly needing to adjust to full-time distance learning and find solutions to continue the momentum of the school year. In another special edition of Behind the Cube, we talk to Brandon Harvey, Senior National Literacy Specialist, who has worked tirelessly in recent weeks training educators to teach their courses online. Check out what he has to say below.
Time working at McGraw Hill: 16 years
Division/Department: Senior National Literacy Specialist
Based in/Location: Richmond, Texas
Questions and Answers:
Can you tell us a little bit about your role as a National Literacy Specialist?
My role is to support all things Literacy PreK-6. I specifically support the entire suite of the Wonders/Maravillas reading programs.
This support might mean helping to create and deliver winning sales presentations that are often customized to each particular district based on a rubric, information from the sales rep, district profile, or a literacy philosophy. Even if it’s not me presenting, I often support our reps, curriculum specialists, and managers around sales-related issues.
Another avenue of support comes in the form of professional development (PD) workshops or classroom modeled lessons. I present workshops over various literacy topics in-person and online to districts or at national and state conferences. I also work with our internal PD department and appear in and film for our PD video library and YouTube channel.
Wonders is a widely-used program so that means knowing the “ins and outs” of the PreK- 6 print materials and each grade level’s unique instructional path. This also means knowing the digital platform and all of its capabilities for both Wonders and for our Spanish-language resource, Maravillas K-6.
Finally, I continually touch base with our academic design and authorship teams to get and give feedback on literacy trends. I keep a standing meeting with our Wonders marketing department to give feedback or inform the best ways to support our Wonders/Maravillas brand. I try my best to be the “face” of Wonders and support the teachers who are using our materials every day.
How has the coronavirus affected your job responsibilities, and what has been different about your role this past month?
I have not been able to travel, but these past 8 weeks have been busy with supporting teachers with online learning. I have had the pleasure of hosting multiple sessions for people in the U.S. and internationally on how to use the Wonders/Maravillas digital for the remote classroom. Support via social media channels like Facebook and Twitter has exploded as well. That was a big push when schools were first closing. Now, I continue with virtual presentations each week and often host sessions over multiple days because no one wants a 6-hour online training! Small chunks are the new norm!
What does a typical day at work look like for you now?
I just have to laugh because there is nothing typical about my workday. It can vary as far as projects, meetings, virtual PD, or sales presentations. That’s really what is so exciting – each day is so different.
Is there a notable or memorable positive experience you’ve had with an educator during this crisis?
Every time I interact with educators!
I have been sent videos via Twitter of students dancing and singing at home to the movement videos I choreographed for phonics and grammar.
I had a district supervisor say, “The fact that Wonders digital has been so easy for students, parents, and teachers to use at home is just another star in the Wonders crown.”
Another educator said, “I’m embarrassed to say this, but we have had Wonders for over a year and we had no idea what treasure trove of digital resources we have been sitting on! This is so awesome and will change how we use Wonders moving forward.”
And so many other warm notes of thankfulness that McGraw Hill has been here and remains here to support educators.
Do you think the current crisis has made our mission and vision seem particularly relevant?
I really believe that our current situation has “forced innovation” on the teachers we support. I believe that more people will use our digital tools in the future, and we will see educators wanting more from McGraw Hill in regards to our future digital offerings. Yes, we are in some very unprecedented times, but I feel that I have continued the same work. It might look and feel different, but the goals, mission, and vision have remained the same!