Ever since I moved into administration, I’ve felt that February is the toughest month of the school year. It is the month when the challenges of the current school year peak (student challenges, a global pandemic?!?), and when the planning for next school year is most intense (getting curriculum guides out, hiring, making admissions decisions). The weather doesn’t help either, at least where I’m writing from in the northeast United States.
These challenges make it the most difficult month to be proactive and engage deeply in our own professional development. And yet, if we don’t work proactively, we run the risks of doing the same thing (and making the same mistakes) year-over year.
A couple of years ago, we developed On-Demand programs to allow independent school educators to quickly understand key issues in our field. Participants start whenever they are ready on a four-hour journey into a topic, and have thirty days to complete their course. These more “bite-size” programs help administrators align their work to best practice quickly. We find that most participants do the programs over a weekend.
Given the challenge of this time of year, here are three programs that might be of help right now:
Whether you are an administrator, department chair or a classroom teacher, this is your chance to learn something new and improve your practice.
At One Schoolhouse, we meet our mission to empower learners and transform education by partnering with you and your schools to meet your needs. Increasingly, we’ve heard from you that you need: additional semester elective opportunities for your students; full course strands in languages and computer science to replace low enrolled offerings on campus; and more resources to help your school transform and thrive in the contemporary education environment. Here are three ways we’re meeting these needs in 2020.
We look forward to our continued partnership in 2020. As always, if there is anything that we can do to help you or your school inspire learning please let me know.
Over the past year, I’ve written about our lessons learned from ten years in online education. I hope this sharing has been helpful to you, as you work on similar topics at your school from increasing student engagement to designing inspiring learning environments to solving financial challenges to valuing the understanding that every student learns differently.
This month, I’d like to look forward to the future and share a bit about where we’re heading next year.
Earlier this year, the Independent Curriculum Group (ICG) merged with One Schoolhouse. Many of you know that the ICG created a treasure-trove of good resources for schools on topics ranging from moving beyond standardized advanced curriculum to living out the mission of the school in the classroom to hiring to schedule changes and more. Since our merger, we’ve been hard at work organizing the ICG resources and creating new resources to share in 2020. Next year, each month we’ll release these resources on our website. You see new podcasts, ebooks, on-demand programs, and more! We’re excited to share this good work with you.
We’ll also be expanding our course catalog even more. Next year, we’ll focus on increasing language offerings and semester elective offerings. As you know, our goal is to be a partner in innovation to schools around the country and around the world. Increasingly, schools are moving language courses online and looking to expand language offerings for students. At the same time, more and more of our schools are looking to take advantage of our exciting semester program -- last year, semester program enrollment grew 50%. Schools love that students get to explore an area of interest first in the fall semester and then identify a compelling question in the spring semester, exploring the possible answers through research or design. This coming year, we’ll add a third option to increase student agency! Look for all of this to be announced with our 2020-2021 course catalog in January.
I also want to let you know that we’ll be hiring two new staff members at One Schoolhouse, starting in January, as we expand our administrative team. We’ll be adding an additional Assistant Head of School to join our team to lead our professional development program and non-credit student programs. And, we’re also in search for a Director of Student Support to join our current academics team, as we double our commitment to supporting schools and students in online course work. If you have any questions about these new positions, let me know. They’ll be posted online by the start of next month.
2019 has been great. Thank you for your partnership during ten years in online education. Here’s to starting the next 10 years strong in 2020.
In the last 10 years, we have harnessed the research on and witnessed for ourselves the powerful connection between student agency and motivation. When students are given the ability to make even small choices around how and what they learn, their engagement with the course changes in a range of positive ways. We see students work more efficiently, be driven to perform to the best of their abilities, and find space for creative exploration or time to foster a tangential curiosity. Quite simply, when students have choice, they do better across a range of success metrics. Armed with this awareness, how do we leverage choice to inspire learning and growth? There are two primary ways that we work to increase choice for students: within the class itself, as Brad wrote about earlier this month, and within the curriculum as a whole.
One Schoolhouse builds courses and programs based on the needs of consortium schools. Increasingly, this has meant schools asking us to extend their course catalog via advanced semester electives, in order to give students more choices in what they can pursue, including topics like business and economics, civics and politics, computer science, engineering, gender identity, global health, neuroscience, psychology, social entrepreneurship.
As we build more elective options, we wanted to go an additional step further in relation to choice, and to make courses even lower risk on the all-precious “time-consumption” meter. Our fall semester courses are interactive survey courses where students get a sense of the subject by exploring via project-based learning and case studies. For some students, this is all they want - an engaging single semester experience with a college-level topic; for others, they then want to do something with what they’ve learned in the fall. Enter a second level of choice: to stay for the second semester or to ease into spring with a lighter load (a choice we are happy to encourage for some seniors!). If they choose to stay on, they enter seminar tracks where they get to research a challenging question or design and build something that solves a real world problem. The structured deadlines of the spring seminar, combined with the flexibility pathways for deep learning, create a learning environment borne of the intersection between student agency and motivation.
Students and families get more from your school when they feel like you have the choices that they want; and we’re working hard to respond to your requests for more choice in advanced electives.
Beth Teske, Assistant Head for Academics at Linden Hall, on how One Schoolhouse's pedagogical model has been a helpful resource in transforming teaching and learning at her school.
Brad Rathgeber, Head of School & CEO