Loomis Chaffee Faculty Prepares for Remodeled School Year

Ahead of the school’s reopening in August, Loomis Chaffee faculty are engaged in professional development to prepare for a remodeled 2020–21 school year.

“We knew we had to ask faculty to do some professional growth over the summer, specifically focused on distance teaching and learning,” said Sara Deveaux, director of the school’s Kravis Center for Excellence in Teaching.

To prepare for “hi-flex” teaching, with some students on campus in the fall and some accessing their classes remotely, Sara teamed up with her Kravis Center colleagues Rachel Nisselson and Alex Lester, Academic Technology Coordinator Matt Johnson, and Director of the Pearse Hub for Innovation Scott MacClintic ‘82 to develop an internal professional development plan.

The foundation of this plan comes from the Understanding by Design framework, a guide written by Jay McTighe and former Loomis Chaffee faculty member Grant Wiggins ‘68. Understanding by Design approaches student achievement and teacher craft as processes of continual improvement, and one of its key elements is designing curricula "backward" from long-term, desired results.

In one of the highlights of the professional development this summer, Mr. McTighe joined Loomis faculty for video Q&A sessions to answer their questions about the Understanding by Design approach as it pertains to their classrooms. "It comes as no surprise that faculty have been 100 percent engaged and also thinking critically about the upcoming year," said Sara.

Cultivating this summer's professional development through the Kravis Center provided the opportunity for discussions among faculty members both during the training sessions and at other times, which was important to the Kravis Center team. They wanted faculty to be able to openly communicate with each other and ask each other questions so that eventually, everyone ends up on the same page.

"It's good to have that dialogue and have someone say 'Hey, you're doing great!' or 'Hey, you can do this as well,'" said visual arts teacher Stacy-Ann "Ro" Rowe ‘97. "The more heads the better to get our minds to where they need to be for this new environment."

As she works to plan up her curriculum for the upcoming year, Ro said the professional development has made the process much easier. She is also energized by the prospect of reconnecting with her students. "Their ideas and thoughts at this age are great, and I feed off of that," she said. "I am really looking forward to seeing my students again."