Mount Vernon Presbyterian School’s Faculty Summer Learning

With deep and genuine curiosity, I often wonder what schools create, encourage, and orchestrate for their faculties’ summer learning — the collective learning that a faculty shares as a community of learners.

So I thought I would share what we at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School and the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation have collaboratively crafted to invite our faculty to learn together as divisional and whole-school learning communities.


Head of Preschool Kelly Kelly shares that

At our closing, end-of-year staff meeting, we went through a few exercises to set the tone for the summer and next year.  Our focus is reflective practice:

1. Reflecting on who we are as teachers, what our beliefs are about children’s learning, and how those beliefs affect how we set up learning experiences for children.

2. Consistently reflecting on classroom practice and the effectiveness of our teaching strategies to facilitate authentic learning experiences.

As a faculty, the Preschool is reading Twelve Best Practices for Early Childhood Education: Integrating Reggio and Other Inspired Approaches. And in similar fashion as last summer, they will get together for book club discussions at Kelly Kelly’s house to collectively think through what they are learning and building in their practices together.

Lower School

A huge hat tip goes to @NicoleNMartin for concepting and bringing to life the Lower School Faculty Summer Learning plan, full of choice and full of continued guidance toward our collaborative achievement of our mission and vision. Nicole’s ideation on this doc, and her commitment to shared testing, feedback and iteration, helped the other divisions to establish their frameworks, as well.

Middle School

Chip Houston, Head of Middle School, led the creation of the Middle School Faculty Summer Learning and posted their digital flyer using Smore. The core of the Middle School exploration jumps off from The Innovator’s DNA, which is on all of the divisions’ reading radars, as we continue to work the entire PS-12 scope and sequence to nurture innovators while building deep understanding of the various learning outcomes we prioritize in the different disciplines. As a school, we believe strongly in the three-legged stool that Tony Wagner describes in Creating Innovators: 1) content, 2) skills and competencies, and 3) motivation.

Upper School

Because of the nature of collaborative creation and prototyping at Mount Vernon, @EmilyBreite crafted another interpretation of the summer learning discussions we were having among the directors of 21st century teaching and learning (now renamed the Heads of Learning and Innovation at each division), and her team helped bring the Upper School Summer Learning to life with the fabulous design work from our Creative Director Trey Boden.

Administrative Team

And with our administrative team, we received a package…

During the summer months, you have several learning opportunities.

1. Read the enclosed book, Scaling Up Excellence. Reflect on your division/department and the mission/vision of the School

2. Utilize the “low-res” materials (and only materials provided) in bag to build a prototype relating to a concept from the book. MV needs to prioritize (scale). There will be a contest.

3. Dialogue with someone (outside MV) about a key takeaway from the book. Document your conversation. Be prepared to share out.

4. Assemble the blueprint. What are your questions about the blueprint? What are your recommendations?

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[Cross-posted at #MVLearns]

5 thoughts on “Mount Vernon Presbyterian School’s Faculty Summer Learning

  1. Pingback: Looking for professional resources, read #cftrecommendations | Center for Teaching

  2. Bo,
    This is absolutely fantastic! I love the variability within and among divisions, but there is also a clear cohesiveness that focuses back on mission. I think I shall pursue some of this myself as it also fits my to-do list focusing on purpose and impact.
    This does make me wonder… how many schools do something like this? Why or why not? I have participated in summer reading at my schools and some summer project work (curricular redesign, unit development, etc.), but the summer reading was “required” and the other summer project work was optional (and invented). I loved it, but how did others feel?
    Which leads to another wondering… do teachers feel like their independence and autonomy (and let’s be honest, freedom during the summer) have been infringed upon by this type of work? I would have LOVED something like this as a faculty member as I always had projects that I worked on and missed the collaboration/camaraderie. I could never “take off” for a summer as it felt empty. As an administrator, I always missed my faculty during the summer and relished the projects we worked on together. But, not everyone feels this way. It definitely speaks to what do we need to do as school leaders to shape a culture where this type of work is not seen as work at all– it is merely a continuation of expected (and DESIRED and INSPIRED) learning- or more appropriately INQUIRY. It speaks to the type of people we hire, looking for growth-minded, lifelong learners. It speaks to what we do within the school year so as not to exhaust teachers (yes, as teachers they will do it to themselves, but we must be honest as school leaders and design think this one through) so that they have a desperate need to detach and get away from everything school.
    I look forward to pondering some of this with you and other leaders!

    • Thanks, Angél! For the positive feedback, as well as for the thought-nudging. For me, part of the overall educational shift involves this – we teaching folks in K-12 education must continue to see our work as continuous and cyclical when it comes to summer and not see it as seasonal. This has professional culture implications, contractual implications, and mindset implications. Many teachers have made such a shift already. Many have not. I believe it is one of the reasons that schools are seen as one of the slowest adapting organizations in the American market system. Something definitely to design think and design do.

  3. FYI. Maybe next year we can have and articulate our CFS plan, whatever it entails.

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Pingback: Mount Vernon Presbyterian School’s Faculty Summer Learning | Mount Vernon Learns

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