05/27/2020 by Carney Sandoe Staff |

Teacher Candidates: Summer Plans for Fall Prep

Hands down, the most urgent conversation within and among schools now is about what teachers and administrators will be doing this summer to prepare for the coming fall term. In particular, with the increasing likelihood that school will need to continue with some form of distance learning in the fall, schools are looking at having teachers and administrators engage in professional develop to help them improve their online programming.

Likewise, many job seekers or those starting new positions in the fall are asking what they can do to best prepare themselves.

When the coronavirus pandemic forced schools into instant distance learning, every teacher in every school scrambled to figure out how to shift their in-person classes into passable online versions — often with some combination of synchronous and asynchronous elements. Now that it looks like schools might need to continue distance learning into the fall semester — or develop a hybrid program that enables some on-campus learning that adheres to safe social distancing — schools are trying to figure out how to up their game.

There’s nothing easy about any of this. And most independent schools we know are working hard to balance out the summer to ensure that teachers have sufficient down-time. Still, these are unprecedented times that call on teachers and administrators to work together at least for part of this summer to establish a fall program that will both serve students well and align well with the school’s mission.

“The learning curve that the teachers have had to climb in order to succeed and to be able to serve their students… in this time has been amazing, and I’ve never been more impressed,” says Peter Gow, Independent Curriculum Resource Director at One Schoolhouse, in a recent webinar. “What makes that even harder is that no one knows right now — nor can they begin to comfortably predict — what the new school year is going to look like. So we have to be prepared.”

For teacher and administrator candidates — those still looking for positions and those just hired for the fall — being prepared means, among other things:

Taking stock of your distance teaching skills and knowledge.

If you have them, great. If, like most educators, you have little or no online teaching experience and are uncertain about it, this is a good time to engage in some kind of study and reflection to help prepare you for the coming fall. This could be through taking part in ongoing webinars, signing up for virtual seminars and workshops, or reading as much as you can in books, blogs, and magazines. The good news is that the conversations are taking place everywhere and educators have been extremely generous in sharing their knowledge and expertise, their challenges and their successes.

Expect to be a team player first.

We mean this in the best sense. While we understand the need for a certain level of autonomy in the classroom (real or virtual) to adapt to any given moment, we are in a crisis, and this crisis needs all adults in schools to work together, particularly to figure out how to best teach in a distance-learning scenario. We’re all assuming the world of education will return to something fairly normal for the 2021-22 school year. But this coming academic year, at least the first half, will continue to pose challenges. Perhaps a better way to say this is that the best way for your school community to address the challenges of teaching during this lingering pandemic is to work together as collegially as possible.

Familiarizing yourself with how independent schools are approaching online teaching and learning.

Many schools have posted what online teaching and learning looks like for their community. For teacher candidates, these documents will you understand what is expected of teachers. A good example is The Agnes Irwin School’s AIS Online document, with the essentials of the design and goals of their online courses. Knowing what schools are planning for the fall can help you focus on what you need to know.

Some Options for Summer Learning:

  • Global Online Academy — is offering four workshops for educators in online teaching and learning, each with two dates this summer. All the workshops free for members. The “Design for Online Learning” is free for nonmembers as well.
  • One Schoolhouse — is offering online workshops, “Academic Leadership for Hybrid Learning Design” and “Designing, Building, and Teaching for Hybrid Learning.” As of this writing, the programs are full. But the former program has a wait list, and One Schoolhouse is looking to open up more space or additional dates. One Schoolhouse also runs a series of weekly webinars related to distance learning, many of which are recorded for asynchronous viewing.
  • The Conscious Teaching website — is offering an asynchronous, 90-minute training program for K-12 educators on “Distance Learning Done Better.”
  • Fairy Dust Teaching — is offering a five-day boot-camp on “Teaching Young Children Virtually.” This is an asynchronous program covering everything from course design to tech training to student engagement and management.
  • The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) — is offering a free virtual institute this summer, running from June 1 to mid-July. It also offers some recently recorded webinars related to distance learning.
  • EdCamp Foundation — is offering a series of virtual EdCamps this summer. These events are free and open to all. Participants collaboratively determine the session topics. As with all EdCamp events, the goal is to find sessions that meet your needs to maximize learning.
  • The World Leadership School — is offering a number of distance learning workshops this summer. As of this writing, some are sold out, but others still have space, including its “Foundational Course: Intermediate Strategies for Online Project-Based Learning.”
  • ASCD — is offering numerous resources related to distance learning and the challenges of education during this pandemic. Offerings include a Distance Learning Video Series.
  • New Tech High’s Center for Excellence — is offering an online project-based learning course, design for distance learning.

Useful Summer Reading:

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