Prior to the start of each new academic year, Ross School faculty engage in Ross Institute Summer Academy, three weeks of professional development during which teachers explore emerging initiatives in education and reflect upon the school’s curricular theme for the year. Building upon the theme introduced last summer, Foresight Education: Preparing Ross Faculty and Students for the Future, the faculty came together to test new tools and approaches to improve the classroom experience.
New and returning faculty members piloted the first two interactive courses in a Ross Learning System series being produced to teach educators to use the Ross Model. In these courses, Ross content, pedagogy, and ethos are delivered digitally as an effective and resource-conscious method of professional development.
The first course succinctly provides an introduction to the Ross model. Course two guides the learner in a deeper look at the Ross Spiral Curriculum and its overarching narrative, the Evolution of Consciousness, as it unfolds chronologically through the grade levels. It was delivered by Director of Professional Development Debra McCall, a 26-year Ross veteran. The content resembles Ross School’s grade 12 recapitulation of the Spiral Curriculum. Courses three and four, which are slated to be released in 2018–2019, will cover project-based learning and systems thinking.
According to Ross Institute’s Media Director Marie Maciak, this pilot allows for economy of scale and greater dissemination of the Ross way of teaching and learning. “We now have a unified culture of knowledge here and a baseline after taking these courses together that will make the development of curriculum and the delivery of content much more effective,” Marie said. “We hope that teachers will feel more confident referencing content from prior years or foreshadowing content that will be taught in higher grades.”
Testing these courses also gave new faculty members an advantage in the classroom. This introduces our philosophy and mission to people who’ve never been at Ross,” said Mathematics Teacher Gary Skellington. “For new teachers, coming to Ross can be difficult because there is a lot of content knowledge from many different places. This shortens their adjustment period and shows new teachers how we are trying to change the education system, both here and around the world.”
Marie says that the course developers have been grateful for the honest and thoughtful feedback faculty members provided feedback about the content and user experience. The team is working to integrate that advice, distill it, and revise the courses before their next development milestone.
In her address to the faculty, Ross School Founder Courtney Sale Ross shared that she looks forward with hope that these courses will provide avenues for greater collaboration between educators and curricular growth. “This is not an end to developing the curriculum,” Mrs. Ross said. “It’s a new beginning.”