Case Study: St. Cecilia Academy Teachers & Students Thrive During Pandemic

Teacher Professional Development & Remote Learning Environment Enhanced

In March 2020, St. Cecilia Academy (St. Cecilia) in Nashville, TN,  like most schools  across  the  world,  were  forced  to  literally  shift overnight  to  remote  teaching  due  to  COVID-19. That’s when Sister Amelia Hueller, Vice Principal of Academics, quickly realized the school needed to devise a plan to  provide  virtual  learning  opportunities  for  teachers  and  administrative  leaders  on  how  to deliver remote teaching and maintain continuity of learning for its students. To be successful, the all-girls high school would need coaching and new technology training tailored to individual leadership and teacher needs. 

what was the goal of the leader?

Sister Amelia Hueller

It was critical  for  our directors and key staff  to  understand  the  best  practices  in  virtual  education  so that they could support teachers on the optimal use of the digital tools at our disposal. Our teachers and students deserve best-in-class support, and with all the uneasy emotions from the pandemic, we knew we had to address several challenges if we were going to maintain a high level of education and student performance, while giving our faculty everything they needed to succeed, both from a technological and professional development lens.

What was done:

In August, Eduscape, developed and implemented the remote SchoolWorks program, offering a comprehensive solution to remote teaching preparedness and success, including a Virtual professional development program for school leaders and then for teachers. The program was customized to both groups' individual needs. 

remote SchoolWorks is developed and delivered by experienced educators and instructional designers in remote learning.  remote SchoolWorks is not a LMS or an EdTech product. The program guides educators, administrators and technology directors to the successful implementation of a school’s selected tools for the purpose of online learning continuity. Content is delivered by data driven research through webinars, video-conferencing, e-learning, office hours and an one-of-a-kind remote SchoolWorks Field Guide.

The program is designed using the four critical pillars of effective remote teaching:

Communication

Community

Assessment

Accessibility

The professional development program is built on these pillars to ensure teachers and leaders followed a structured approach to support virtual learning for all students in St. Cecilia.

The remote SchoolWorksField Guide provided guidelines for teachers to follow aligned to the four pillars. The Guide helped the educators establish Teams norms in a remote teaching environment. There School Leader Guide for district administrators and building leaders helped them manage and support teachers who are remote teaching. The Guide was also a resource for communicating with all stakeholders.

After a customized assessment of the knowledge of St. Cecilia leadership and teachers,  tailored training was initiated to:

  • Develop and strengthen skills in supporting students in face to face, hybrid and/or remote environments with technology integration through Office 365 applications.
  • Strengthen leadership and teachers’ approach to technology integration to support learning through assessment and engagement, utilizing Office 365 applications to implement learning experiences.
  • Develop and strengthen leadership and teachers’ approach to data-driven instruction by determining how Microsoft applications can support data collection and inquiry. Educators developed an action plan to implement at the classroom, grade, department and/or school level.

As the school shifted to remote learning environments for students, the staff participated in Virtual Coaching sessions via 18 webinar-based sessions providing best practices in remote teaching and classroom management. Throughout these sessions, provided over an eight month period, Eduscape trainers continuously assessed the learning, relevance and implementation of what was taught ensuring all individual and collective needs were met. Sessions included a combination of direct instruction/modeling, practice and Q&A. At the end of each week, participants shared questions to address needs during future  coaching sessions. Therefore, learning outcomes were based on educator interest.

Additionally, Eduscape provided the following learning targets for the staff to align with their curriculum and implement with students:

  • Foundational Technology (Hardware & Software, Troubleshooting, Keyboarding) 
  • Productivity (Account Settings, Communication, Organization) 
  • Word Processing (Create, Format, Revise)
  • Data (Collection, Processing)
  • Presentation (Create, Format, Present)
  • Digital Arts and Media (View, Create)
  • Communication and Collaboration (Communicate, Collaborate)
  • Digital Citizenship (Digital Identity, Responsible Practices)
  • Research (Search, Critical Analysis, Intellectual Property) 
Outcomes:

The result was that teachers were able to transfer the classroom experience online, from direct instruction, to group work, to summative assessments. Initially, the training focused on the delivery of content so that the school could shift from in-person to online learning as needed. Eventually, the focus shifted to increasing student engagement and designing new assessments that were equitable for in-person and online students. The focus on pedagogy, more than just technology, was of particular interest to the St. Cecilia faculty. 

what was the reaction to the outcomes?

Sister Amelia Hueller

Partnering with Eduscape was a huge part of our ability to prepare teachers to start the year with confidence so that, as a community, we could welcome students back to school in August. Numerous parents have expressed their gratitude for the quality of instruction, the high level of student engagement, and the ease with which teachers can welcome both in-person and online students to class each day. There is no replacement for in-person learning, but our online courses were equitable and still kept our unique St. Cecilia fun and flare!

Sister concluded by reflecting upon the staying power of the remote schoolworks program, “While the urgency of this professional development was tied to technology, the lasting gift is that our training focused on pedagogy and best practices. These are areas of interest for every master teacher and I’m so proud of our teacher’s dedication to personal and department level advances.”


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