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A Summer of Professional Learning, 2020 Edition

COVID-19 has impacted every part of our lives — how we work, how we interact with others, how we teach and learn, and more. From the rapid transition to remote learning this past spring to the uncertainty of fall, preparing for both in-person and remote learning, our teachers have navigated uncharted territory for months. But one constant is their steadfast commitment to providing a safe learning environment where every Admiral feels a sense of belonging and is known and valued. Leading with that promise, our teachers spent the summer in remote professional development workshops, classes, and conference sessions to help their students thrive in this time of tremendous change.

Summer PD Reimagined

Professional development is nothing new at Severn. We hold in-service PD days throughout the school year, support faculty travel to conferences, provide grants for personal and professional growth, and offer an array of Severn Summer Institute classes. This year, our professional development team curated a more focused selection of remote classes taught by and for Severn teachers in combination with other learning opportunities to directly address pressing issues today: how to make the most of teaching and learning remotely, how to build and sustain an inclusive and equitable school culture, how to support the physical and emotional health of our students, and more. Rising to meet the needs of our students and brave the inevitable challenges ahead, Severn teachers participated in more classes this summer than ever before.
Photo of iPad with book and cleaning supplies.
Preparing for hybrid learning means teachers keep the health and safety of in-person students top of mind while using a variety of technology to connect with those off campus.

MSON Boutique Sessions for Severn

This was a tailored collection of courses provided by the Malone Schools Online Network to provide Severn faculty with additional training on best practices in remote learning from experienced online instructors. Sessions included:
  • On-boarding New Students Virtually
  • Using Breakout and Projects to Promote Community
  • Deepening Student Connections and Community
  • SEL Programming and Wellness
  • Adapting Syllabi, Diversity from Global Comparative Perspectives
  • Creative Assessment of Student Learning

Pollyanna Racial Curriculum Sessions

Our Lower School implemented the Pollyanna Racial Literacy Curriculum in 2019 to foster positive understandings about race and culture in our Lower School community. This summer, they had two intensive sessions with our 2nd and 3rd grade teachers to further develop the curriculum.

Summer Faculty Read

Each summer our faculty reads a book or selection of books to expand our understanding of big ideas in education and human development. This year's reading included:
  • Chesapeake Requiem by Earl Swift
  • Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
  • The Person You Mean to Be by Dolly Chugh
  • The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

Division Workshops on Microaggressions and Implicit Bias

Organized by our Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Mr. Michael Glasby, and led by Lawrence Alexander, Director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion for Carney Sandoe and Associates, each division met on Zoom to discuss the cumulative effects of bias and microaggressions on underrepresented students at Severn and in independent schools.
Photo of professional development workshop on Zoom.
The workshops included a presentation by Mr. Alexander interspersed with faculty comments and feedback followed by breakout groups for more interactive discussion.

Chesapeake Campus Tech Workshops

Led by our Lower School tech duo Ms. Vicki Dabrowka and Mr. Sam Mendez, and math specialist Ms. Stacy Shaener, all Lower School faculty participated in a selection of classes to support students during remote learning. Sessions included:
  • mySevern: News and Topics
  • mySevern: Assignments, Assessments, & Gradebook
  • mySevern: Building More
  • Seesaw: Home Codes
  • Zoom 101 & 102
  • Jamboard, Wizer, & Kahoot
  • Google Docs, Slides, & Drive
  • Math Number Routines for PS & PK
  • Creating an Active Math Class for K-2nd grade and 3rd-5th grades
Severn School technology teacher preparing for back to school.
Our Lower School tech team (Mr. Mendez pictured here) planned and led professional development sessions while preparing devices and updating systems throughout the summer.

Tech Workshops for All Grades

Led by Upper School Technology Coordinator Ms. Julia Maxey, these workshops were open to any faculty member and focused on specific tools, programs, and workflows our teachers can use in class.
  • mySevern
  • Office365
  • Creating Screencasts
  • Google Drive
  • Flipgrid, EdPuzzle, & Padlet
  • Miro, EduCreations, & Pear Deck
  • Wakelet & InsertLearning
Severn School students in socially distanced class with masks.
Remote students connect with the class using Zoom and iPads, while in-person students practice safe distancing and wearing masks.

Outside Programs, Conferences, and Workshops

Severn faculty participated in the following online programs provided by trusted organizations in the larger independent school community:
  • 2020 Summer Conference, MSON
  • Panel for Remote Learning, MSON
  • Planning for Classroom Space When School Reopens, AIMS
  • Childcare Reopening Checklist Walkthrough, HiMama
  • Health Issues in Returning to Campus: Your Questions Answered, AIMS
  • The Play First Summit
  • Equity and Antiracism 101, AIMS & The Wells Collective
  • Understanding School and Culture, AIMS & The Wells Collective
  • The Equity Playbook: Shifting your School Culture & Moving From Words to Action, AIMS

Taking It Further

On their own, many teachers participated in faculty book groups, spent countless hours reading and researching, tested new academic technology, and collaborated remotely before our formal back-to-school meetings at the end of August. We support our faculty with many professional development opportunities, but they take it much further on their own. Our dedicated teachers truly are the heart of Severn School.

Severn's professional development philosophy states, "As a student-centered institution, Severn School believes that adults should model the qualities they wish to see in their students. To that end, adults at Severn engage in professional development as a community of learners. Severn believes that adults learn best in collaborative situations where professional growth is valued."
Severn School teachers demonstrate six feet of distance with a tape measure.
Ms. Johnson and Mr. Massenburg demonstrate how to keep a safe six feet of distance from others while on campus.

Lower School

Upper School