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Accompanying all the new and returning students to both campuses this fall are several new Pingry faculty and staff. 

Pingry Teachers Are Ready for a New—and Different—School Year
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Pingry faculty and staff were hard at work over the summer, preparing for what is certain to be an unusual fall semester. Starting in early June, Pingry teachers participated in four weeks of immersive training with Global Online Academy (GOA), an international education organization that specializes in training teachers to deliver innovative online learning experiences. The goal was to help teachers to reimagine their courses in preparation for Pingry Anywhere, and to be ready to teach students whether they're at home or in the classroom. 

Co-organized by Brian Burkhart, Director of Technology and Curricular Initiatives, Dr. Reid Cottingham, Director of Teaching and Learning, and Dr. Delvin Dinkins, Assistant Head of School, the intensive GOA training program began with a week-long Design Bootcamp, followed by three weeks of Instructional Design Coaching. During the bootcamp, teachers learned new strategies and skills to design their own unique online learning approaches for students, within the framework of Pingry Anywhere, such as building community in online spaces, incorporating wayfinding, and creating effective student assessments, among other lessons. During the three weeks of instructional coaching, with a scaffold of online teaching skills in place, Pingry teachers worked closely—if virtually—with GOA coaches to develop new courses and redesign old ones for the 2020-21 school year.

Dr. Dinkins was already familiar with GOA's work from his experience at another school, and Pingry was planning an eventual collaboration. With the arrival of Covid-19 last spring, he believed this past summer was an optimal time to forge ahead with a Pingry-GOA partnership. "Covid-19 threw us into a crisis. Emergency remote instruction is not the same as online learning, which takes weeks or even months to design. We realized that GOA aligns with what Pingry is doing already, with its emphasis on experiential learning, and they could  teach us how to leverage new tools and provide structure to reimagined teaching and learning." As Dr. Cottingham added, online learning was already an area of focus, announced in Pingry's 2018 strategic plan, but the arrival of the pandemic made it an even higher priority.

In addition to the expectations of learning new teaching methods and strategies to engage students in various environments (both in-person or remote), there were some unexpected discoveries along the way. Teachers found themselves in a role-reversal, as they became the students. As Pingry educators navigated through online lessons and different remote platforms, many gained a better understanding of what Pingry students experienced in the spring, and in turn, developed greater empathy.

Pingry teachers also learned the importance of incorporating thoughtful and logical design into reimagined courses for 2020-21, especially since they may need to transition at any point from in-person to fully remote learning. 

To experiment with what they learned, several Pingry teachers ran a variety of "short courses" in early August. These courses lasted one or two weeks and were a mix of in-person and online instruction. One of the courses, Bon Appétit! All About Food, was an interdisciplinary course taught by Upper School French Teacher Anne Changeux and Upper School Biology Teacher and Farm and Sustainability Coordinator Olivia Tandon. Students had the opportunity to learn about French food, culture, and cuisine, as well as get their hands dirty on Pingry's farm as they learned about farm-to-table cooking, and the science behind farming.   

These short courses allowed teachers to incorporate more experiential learning into their teaching, a learning approach that Pingry had been moving towards already, and which the school expects to develop further in the coming years. Despite the challenges around reimagining Pingry's K-12 curricula for Pingry Anywhere, Dr. Cottingham remains upbeat and optimistic about the year ahead, adding, "Our movement forward as an organization is being accelerated by our partnership with GOA, and I see that as a silver lining!" 


Contact: Dina Glasofer, Communications and Admission Associate, dglasofer@pingry.org