How might we continue to evolve and innovate in order to provide an excellent education that prepares students for the future?

Overview

The RCDS Institute for Innovative Teaching and Learning was launched in 2016 with the goal of empowering faculty to lead, collaborate, and innovate by pursuing ideas that advance the school's mission and values. Faculty members consider how their passions and ideas might help the School beyond their individual classroom walls. They develop project proposals that are then submitted to the Institute team for review. Each year, the Institute funds five faculty projects and provides the administrative support and resources for the projects to grow from idea to implementation. The Institute serves as an innovation lab for faculty and is based on the belief that teachers are the best resource for developing an integrated curriculum and pedagogy that readies students to contribute meaningfully and to flourish.

Institute Objectives

A collaborative commitment to values

Cultivate a deep commitment and collaborative approach to School values by tying together current and future initiatives and priorities.

Faculty as leaders and innovators

Promote a thriving faculty by creating opportunities for faculty to lead, collaborate, and innovate while delivering the School’s mission, recognizing that in order to thrive, faculty must feel empowered and supported in taking initiative, and must have meaningful opportunities to contribute, learn, and grow.

An integrated curriculum for the future

Facilitate the development of and ongoing support for an integrated curriculum and pedagogy that readies students to contribute to and flourish within a complex and interconnected world.

Global partnerships

Contribute to and learn from the global dialogue on education, and form partnerships with educational institutions around the world.

2016 - 17 Projects

Community of Innovative Teachers

Community of Innovative Teachers


How might we create meaningful leadership and professional development opportunities that inspire collaboration as well as passion and enthusiasm for our tasks/roles as educators?

Fellows

Sarah Danziger
Department Chair, Classics

Latin Teacher, Upper School

Kyle Mitschele
Social Studies Teacher, Middle School

Key Collaborators

Meredith deChabert
Assistant Head of School, Middle School Principal

Barbara Shea
Lower School Principal

Paul Wieman
Upper School Principal

Eliza McLaren
Director of the Institute for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Project Overview

The Community of Innovative Teachers is an in-house professional development program focused on the science and art of teaching.

Conversations among colleagues about curriculum and pedagogy are essential for the continued growth of a talented and diverse faculty. This kind of communication encourages teachers to identify curricular intersections across disciplines and divisions, develop plans for interdisciplinary collaboration, inspire each other, and implement increasingly innovative approaches to teaching. This project aims to build an inclusive community of faculty that values, prioritizes, and facilitates the communication that leads to collaboration, inspiration, and innovation, for teachers and by teachers.

Through informal, faculty-led discussion groups (guided by the principles of “how might we” questions and the theory and process of Design Thinking) and four screenings of diverse films focused on innovative approaches to curriculum and pedagogy, the aim of the first phase of this project is to create a permanent program series for faculty which will foster curricular and pedagogical communication, collaboration, inspiration, and innovation.

Because innovative teaching has many different faces, these discussions and screenings will place special priority on the value of addressing differing perspectives on innovative and collaborative teaching, from diverse sources. These gatherings are designed to be invitational, informal, social, and driven by faculty interest, changing the current, division- or discipline-bound paradigm in which discussion among faculty members about curriculum usually takes place. An encouragement of a new kind of professional development, this program encourages faculty members to learn from their colleagues in-house, fostering a culture of observation, collaboration, and mentorship.

Good Morning RCDS

Good Morning RCDS


How might a weekly video broadcast build the Middle School community and share messages and examples of good citizenship, ethical behavior, positive decision making, service, and excellence?

Fellows

Corey Rubel
Drama and Dance, Middle School

Tim Silverman
Spanish, Middle School; Counselor, Upper School

Project Overview

Good Morning RCDS is a weekly video broadcast that brings together the Middle School community.

Mr. Rubel and Mr. Silverman partner with dozens of students in the Middle School to put together stories of interest to students, faculty, and parents.

Episodes come out on Friday mornings and are watched by students in homeroom and e-mailed to parents through E-notes.

Recent Episodes

Amplifying Student Support

Amplifying Student Support


How might we make sure that all students and families feel like Rye Country Day School is made for them?

Fellow

Dion Reid
Associate Director of College Counseling

Key Collaborators

Ali Morgan
Director of Diversity & Inclusion

Courtney Doucette
Director of Financial Aid

Eliza McLaren
Director of the Institute for Innovative Teaching and Learning

Project Overview

"There are cultural norms, unwritten rules, complex social networks, and learning behaviors unique to an independent school community that may seem foreign to nontraditional students and their families. I want to create a coordinated layer of support for students and families who are financial aid recipients, first generation college bound, and or students of color. There will be professional development opportunities for faculty and staff, surveys and focus groups designed to inform best practices, formalized communication plans to provide access to key information needed to serve our students, and an event at Wildcat Weekend that engages alumni in a discussion about the past, present, and future of diversity at RCDS."


Digital Responsibility

Digital Responsibility


How might we support a culture of digital responsibility among students and adults?

Fellows

Jenny Heath
Dean, Grade 9; English Teacher, Upper School

Jason Leath
Technology Integrator, Grades K-12

Project Overview

"We will continue to develop and expand a K-12 social media/digital responsibility curriculum that meets the following goals:

  • to inspire ongoing discussions about social media use and decision making,
  • to increase digital literacy, to create a common understanding of appropriate digital behaviors,
  • and to help students to leave a positive digital footprint.

This program will incorporate a series of student-led activities including, but not limited to, developing community a contract or set of community norms for online behavior, digital responsibility activities, and conversations led by Upper School students to education their peers and younger students. Finally, the program will include communication(s) to provide information for parents about how to help their children use social media and the Internet."


Innovative Classrooms

Innovative Classrooms


How might we enhance our classroom environments and furniture for optimal learning?

Fellows

Tia Gueye
Department Chair, Mathematics; Teacher, Upper School

Brian O'Callaghan
Dean of Grade 5; Social Studies Teacher, Middle School

Project Overview

This collaborative fellowship is researching and advancing the ways classroom environments can be optimized for student engagement and collaboration.

Two classrooms are being used as experimental laboratories to pilot new furniture. In the Middle School, students and teachers are piloting the Bernie desk out of Stanford Design School. In addition, students are experimenting with various seating options, including nontraditional bean bags and wooden cubes. In the Upper School, several faculty members are teaching their classes in a room equipped with Node Chairs, an innovative and arrangeable set of desks designed by IDEO.

Both Brian and Tia serve as resident experts in brain-based classroom design, and invite faculty to experiment with practical adjustments to classrooms throughout the School. In addition, Brian and Tia are working on a long term proposal for updating furniture throughout classrooms on campus.

The Institute