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Summer Professional Development, Technology Training Supports Hybrid Learning

Over the summer, Ravenscroft invested significantly in technology upgrades, teacher professional development, personal protective equipment and facility enhancements to safely roll out the hybrid-learning model, a combination of on-campus learning and remote access for students who need or prefer to remain at home. 

An essential element of this preparation was faculty members’ work in refining and expanding their repertoire of best practices in the hybrid classroom, made possible by the generous support of the Parents’ Association. Here’s an overview of the great work they did this summer:

One Schoolhouse (Fifth grade, Middle School and Upper School teachers)  

The One Schoolhouse Hybrid Learning Course is a research-based, learner-centric model of curriculum design and instruction. Teachers took this course to prepare for our hybrid-learning environment — in which teachers design, develop and deliver their courses through a combination of in-person and online modalities. 

Lower School teachers collaborate on lessons in classrooms reconfigured for physical distancing.

NCAIS Workshop (Lower School teachers)

Lower School teachers participated in a workshop offered by the North Carolina Association of Independent Schools dedicated to answering the question: How can educators better prepare for the unknowns ahead? Topics included student engagement, classroom culture, instructional design and instructional best practices in a hybrid-learning environment. 

PreK teacher Lana DuBose described the workshop as an “eye-opening experience for me.”

“Last spring, we were thrust into an ‘emergency’ virtual-learning environment,” she said. “The NCAIS virtual sessions gave us time to begin to effectively plan and prepare for successful teaching in a virtual classroom.  Many of the presenters were experienced in virtual learning and provided excellent insight into creating positive and stimulating virtual-learning experiences. I have already started to implement some of the strategies that were shared in my planning this year.”

Canvas

The hybrid-learning environment, which also includes some teachers leading their classes remotely, will be further supported by the education management system Canvas, on which all teachers were trained this summer.

Canvas is Ravenscroft’s new learning management system. It provides teachers, students and parents a single, intuitive and robust destination for all course-related content. Ravenscroft created a Canvas Integration Team of 20 teachers led by Sarah Wike, Director of Educational Technology. The Canvas Integration Team did extensive training on the system and then met with their colleagues in one-on-one sessions to support them as they made the transition.  

“Since the week of July 20, when we held our all-faculty training with a Canvas representative, the integration team has been hard at work helping teachers prepare for a year of hybrid teaching and learning,” Wike said. “We’ve offered 1:1 sessions on a variety of Canvas topics and shared how to use additional ed-tech tools such as Kami, which integrates with Canvas to turn any document into a PDF students can annotate with text, voice, video, shapes and more. Kami will be utilized regularly this year as we try to limit passing papers between students and teachers.”  

Teachers found the training experiences helpful as they prepared for teaching in the hybrid environment.

“I am so grateful for all the time we had this summer to learn Canvas. Between the training calls, 1:1 sessions, and the One Schoolhouse course, we are set up well to deliver our content in our current hybrid environment,” eighth-grade Language Arts teacher Sarah Baker said. “Though I am on the Canvas Integration Team, it hasn’t been about me knowing everything about the system; I’ve just been able to be a point person who is lucky enough to be able to meet with several colleagues in all departments and divisions. I’ve been able to see how they are setting up their courses, and it has helped me figure out how I want to set mine up. We really are ‘all in this together,’ and everyone has been so kind to share what they’ve learned as they’ve played around with the learning management system.”

Summer Grants

As many classes (including Mrs. Garris’s class) will include students joining from home, the summer professional development on student engagement and planning in the midst of unknowns will prove useful.

Thanks to the generous endowments created by the Maynard Family, the Lichtin Family and the Board of Trustees, Ravenscroft offered our 10th Excellence in Teaching Summer Institute. Faculty apply for grants to support projects that advance our strategic initiative, Educational Excellence and Programmatic Distinction. This year the main focus of the summer grants was on teaching in a hybrid-learning model

“Summer is an excellent time for faculty to reflect, collaborate and design coursework. We are so grateful for the work the faculty did this summer to prepare for the school year,” Colleen Ramsden, Associate Head of School for Academics and Student Life, said. “Professional development on hybrid learning, student engagement and Canvas has provided the faculty the tools needed for a successful learning experience for all students.”

Ravenscroft’s Parents’ Association capped another strong year of community building and philanthropy with a gift to the school in support of this important work, providing more than $75K in funding for professional development with One Schoolhouse and NCAIS and for the purchase of Canvas. In addition, the PA is partnering with the school to provide lunches for faculty and staff, many of whom will be supervising students during the lunch period.  

“The PA is so proud to have the ability to support our Ravenscroft community in what is no doubt an extraordinary time in our school’s history,” 2019 PA Co-Presidents Nicole Carter and Georganne Santacaterina said. “With the ability to support faculty and students in the classroom and provide options for those who want to attend virtually, Ravenscroft provides a safe choice for everyone.”

Canvas will provide a consistent, user-friendly platform for all faculty, students and families at Ravenscroft this year.