Many believe that teachers have summers off, free from all responsibilities. While their daily schedules can be less stringent during the summer months, MICDS faculty members often engage in bettering themselves as educators and learning new skills during their weeks off from teaching. This was especially true this past summer as MICDS faculty and staff prepared for an uncertain fall semester. Many teachers invested time and energy into learning best practices for distance learning, exploring new tools and applications to engage students, and designing their curriculum to fit within various potential learning environments.
MICDS is fortunate to have a pedagogical expert on staff – Elizabeth Helfant, Coordinator of Pedagogical Innovation. Helfant led weekly virtual sessions themed “Pedagogy AC (After Covid)” for faculty to discuss topics and tools and share best practices for hybrid and distance learning. Session topics included student engagement, student projects, formative assessments, and more. Helfant offered practical advice on how to conduct a class discussion at six feet of social distance and also shared tools to help support discussions such as Parlay Ideas, Canvas Discussions, and Flipgrid.
There were nine sessions throughout the summer months, all hosted virtually, and faculty appreciated this content greatly. On average, 27 faculty members attended each session, and some sessions had up to 70 faculty members participating. Helfant also hosted 32 follow up sessions with individual teachers or small groups to go deeper into a tool or idea. She was a tremendous resource for teachers as they tried to map out a learning unit to be adaptable to various learning environments or as a thought partner to brainstorm assessments.