by City and Country School
Virtual field trips. A digital newspaper. Social distancing and online math games.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a lot of invention. Throughout the 2020-21 school year, teachers have been finding creative ways to maintain and build the progressive City and Country learning experience across screens and distance. The Innovation Ambassadors program was launched to help identify these new pedagogical inventions so they can be spread beyond a single classroom to the community at large.
In a model similar to the Summer Curriculum Grants, teachers submitted applications and were selected to join a cohort of ambassadors charged to build and spread innovative practices. Each member of the seven-teacher cohort leads a showcase project on their work, ranging from the role of play in hybrid environments to strategies for engaging parents helping their children learn at home. The Ambassadors document their process and highlight successes and challenges, as they explore ways the work could be used in non-pandemic times, and across other classrooms and groups. Ambassadors join cohort meetings to discuss strategies to maintain a strong progressive education in a disrupted environment, and visit each other’s classrooms—both real and virtual—to learn tips from colleagues and share feedback on practices.
Led by Coordinator of Instructional Technology Saber Khan, the cohort intentionally broadens its scope beyond just apps and the latest technology. The challenges of the pandemic provide opportunities to shape a technology response in a way consistent with City and Country’s mission, with student-driven initiatives. According to XIII’s Newspaper journalists Ellie Keane and Cienna Cheng, the remodeled Newspaper, “empowers XIIIs to engage with their interests in writing, podcasts, videos, producing, editing, gaming, coding, and so much more.”
At the program’s launch, Principal Scott Moran commented, “While we hold true to C&C values and pedagogy, our experience in this crisis is also a way for us to reimagine the student experience, help one another, and as always, learn from children. C&C was founded as an educational laboratory, where educators could come together, innovate, and test new progressive practices.”
It’s hard to imagine a year where the educational laboratory was more active. Through the work and energy of this pilot Innovation Ambassador program, the knowledge and practices gained from the pandemic can positively impact the school community for years to come.
Below is a list of C&C’s 2021 Innovation Ambassadors and their Showcase Projects.
Using Google Jamboards, Slides, and other apps to build student engagement through math activities.
Using virtual field trips and 360-degree photos and video to connect students with nature through remote learning.
Megan Holland and Molly Lippman
Exploring and reimagining play and play-related work in hybrid learning environments.
Mona De Victoria
Redesigning cross-classroom and cross-Group collaboration through Zoom and play.
Using the Glide App to empower students to make a digital version of the Newspaper: Generation Zoom