Teachers Examine Curriculum at Third-Annual Faculty Institute
Brittany Rockenfeller

For the third year in a row, Blair faculty members had the opportunity to participate in an on-campus professional development program during the annual Faculty Summer Institute. The Institute, which took place during two weeklong sessions in June and August, brought together the English, fine arts, language and mathematics departments to tackle projects, including a review of curriculum and courses. “We asked our department chairs what they would like to see changed in their core curriculum and what the priorities of the Summer Institute should be. This year, these departments jumped at the chance to look at what is being taught, consider the vision for particular courses and ensure they are achieving what they set out to do in the beginning of the year,” said Dean of Teaching & Learning Caren Standfast ’95.

During the first session in June, participants attended a diversity-and-inclusion workshop presented by Kathleen Devlin ’20. Kathleen guided attendees through various exercises she learned at the Student Diversity Leadership Conference earlier in the year, a program she was able to attend after participating in Blair’s yearlong Human Rights Seminar. Attendees also heard from Peter Horn, a teacher and consultant from the National SEED Foundation, who spoke about equity audits and bringing equality into the classroom.

The fine arts department tweaked the 2D arts curriculum to better address the increased interest in the program since the 2017 opening of the Chiang-Elghanayan Center for Innovation and Collaboration (a project tackled by fine arts department chair Kate Sykes and fine arts teachers Evan Thomas and Tyson Trish). 

The English department reviewed and considered restructuring the required English I curriculum that serves as a foundation for other, more advanced English classes (a project led by English department chair Jim Moore and English teachers Sarah O’Neil, Carolyn Conforti-Browse ’79, Bob Brandwood and Kaye Evans). 

In August, the language and mathematics departments attended the Institute’s second session. Language teachers Cristina Castillo, Jaime Mundo, Sharon Merrifield, Kate Lavalle,Timothy Devaney and department chair Joyce Lang made changes to their department’s general curriculum to better support the learning process and establish a framework for evaluating performance versus proficiency, as well as the role of proper spoken accents in the classroom. Meanwhile, math department chair John Padden and math teachers Tracy Klein, Danyelle Doldoorian, Keenan Friend, Sarah Newbury and Dean of Academics Nathan Molteni reviewed and considered restructuring the required courses that serve as a foundation for the program, as well as the process for department-wide curricular alignment. The August session concluded with presentations by Institute participants in the Chiang-Elghanayan Center for Innovation and Collaboration on August 23.

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