Skip to main content

Deepening Learning in Schools, One Department at a Time

Wow, it’s been quiet around here on the CILD blog – not because we haven’t been busy, though. Reimagining teaching and learning with collaborators from across Virginia is busy work! We thought you might like to have an update on some of the work we’re undertaking, and get a sneak peek into a new project we’re launching.

With generous support from the Jessie Ball du Pont Fund, we’ve begun what we hope is a multi-year partnership with Lancaster County Schools, located in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Beginning with a summer deeper learning academy, we’ve been working with 30 educators representing a cross section of grades and content areas across the county’s three to design both small hacks and significant projects to deepen learning in the division. We’re using a blended professional learning model wherein we combine face-to-face sessions, one-on-one and team coaching sessions, and a series of online modules to challenge teachers at all levels to provide their students with opportunities to collaborate, solve authentic problems, develop their academic mindsets, and engage in real-world learning. It’s been a great experience so far, and we still have several months until the division-wide deeper learning expo. For more on this project, please take a look at this feature article, Supporting Deeper Learning Practices in Lancaster County.

We’ve also been busy partnering with Amy Colley and the SURN team to launch three new cohorts of the School Retool fellowship for school leaders. By the end of this semester, we will have successfully “graduated” five cohorts of school leaders from across the Commonwealth (more than any other state!) to help them develop the hack mindsets for meaningful innovation toward deeper learning. In addition to one “open” cohort that we’re hosting at the William & Mary School of Education, we’re also working closely with the at Stanford University on two “experiments.” Originally designed exclusively with school leaders in mind, we’re testing out two new models of the School Retool fellowship to also include teacher leaders. In Virginia Beach, we’re working with fifteen secondary school principals/directors along with fifteen partner teacher leaders. In Loudon County, we’re working with five high school principals, each with a team of four teacher leaders. These new efforts are not only exciting (and hopefully groundbreaking for the School Retool program across the US), this approach of shared leadership is a model both CILD and SURN believe in.

Finally, CILD and SURN are embarking on a bit of a professional learning experiment. We’ve launched a Tribe Funding campaign to support the development of an online professional learning experience for teachers and school leaders to help them to amplify student voice in their classrooms and schools. As students are increasingly disengaged from school as they progress into middle and high school, we want to try to counter the tide by helping educators experiment with amplifier strategies to increase student voice in learning and assessment, school climate and culture, community engagement and more. Building on a successful face-to-face workshop, we hope this new online version allows us to create an immersive experience that will challenge participants to design and try small hacks that will build towards larger, more systematic strategies. Please consider donating to what we hope will be an important and helpful resource for educators.

Amplifying Student Voice in Virginia's K-12 Schools