PD Paradigm Shift Examined at July Summit

The transition to online learning this past spring opened the window for shifting schools towards new ways of engaging students in learning. We asked our community how their professional development programming was evolving in response. -- SD [1o-minute read; 1-hour video]

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The seismic transition to online learning last spring necessitated among educators a re-thinking of how learning can be delivered and experienced -- in any format. We wondered what were the specific advantages of teaching in an only space, and what did those spaces lack, even under the best of circumstances? We revisited the best practices for instruction, no matter where it happens. Educators questioned the amount of content really needed in any given discipline, and investigated new ways of looking at assessment and curriculum design. Finally, as social consciousness about diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice was elevated to a new level, educators were challenged to look at the curriculum and institutional systems of education through a whole new lens.

At ATLIS, we wondered how all this was affecting the delivery of professional development at independent schools, particularly as this intersected with the technology and innovation initiatives at schools. We asked our community the following questions:

How will you up your game with professional development to meet the needs of faculty and students where they are now? 

  • How are you leveraging summer PD to sustain and support new hybrid learning environments?

  • Or how are you leveraging summer PD to address racial justice or other areas of concern?

Faculty Readiness Considerations for School Reopening

As we found ourselves looking both backwards and forwards at the same time, ATLIS Think Tank members Dr. Jill Brown of Albuquerque Academy, NM, and Natalia Walchli of Gulliver Schools, FL, grounded our discussion in an overview of their checklist of considerations for schools as we look toward what is likely to be some version of hybrid education in the Fall. Their considerations address issues of pedagogy, faculty training, student training, and wellness. 

Learn more about the Faculty Readiness Considerations and download the complete checklist here.

Paradigm Shifts for Professional Development

Much of our discussion gravitated toward ways to structure professional development to get at the shifts that recent developments have generated.

Nissa Hales of Laguna Blanca School, CA, shared her school’s response to the faculty’s desire to learn. They were “chomping at the bit to learn more,” Hales explained, and the school needed a way to share information about all the learning opportunities that were popping up in everyone’s in-boxes. The result was her school’s faculty choice boards.

Tara Northcott of Landon School, MD, shared her school’s approach combining short (1-3 hour) pedagogical discussions with specific online sessions about tools and resources. Northcott explained, “While the pedagogical [discussion] sessions introduce new tools,” Northcott explained, “it's more of an opportunity for participants to find out what is out there” in the context of good pedagogical practice, “so they can then proceed to sessions designed to teach them how to use the particular tools.”

Tatyana Griffin of Marin Horizon School, CA, described the learning pathways she and her faculty are developing for self-directed PD. Their summer work has focused on training in the form of micro-courses, while their back-to-school focus will address the new hardware being used to outfit classrooms with devices signed for hybrid schooling.

David Boxer of the Blake School, MN, followed up his previous Summit description of how his school is using design thinking protocols with faculty with an overview of the evolution from Think Tanks digging deep into designing online learning to smaller Design Teams more specifically focused on instruction in the younger grades and the best ways to deliver hybrid learning opportunities. We loved their approach to boiling down their best practice discussions to “7 Principles” to translate their work into easily digestible and usable nuggets.

Shared Resources

Arizona State University,Learning Hu(Man) Digital Learning Event
Douglas Fisher er al.,The Distance Learning Playbook: Grades K-12, Corwin, 2020.
Gayle Wilson, Assessment Options. Wakelet.
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