Ridgefield Academy’s Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (The Center) was designed to create a dynamic learning environment where students and teachers can reach their full potential. The Center partners with faculty, evaluating curriculum to make certain it is appropriately forward thinking, and that the course material presented and teaching methods employed will assist students in developing the essential skills they need. With the support of The Center, our teachers examine the act of teaching, not merely the subject, as well as the process of learning. Faculty are provided continuing education opportunities and support to ensure that all students are appropriately challenged, inspired, and able to reach their highest level of achievement.
Overseeing The Center's many initiatives is RA's Director of the
Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, Basil Kolani. Basil joined
the Ridgefield Academy community in 2015 following ten years as the Head
of Technology and Innovation at Dwight School, the New York-based
flagship of a family of international schools. There, he supervised
technology offerings from nursery to grade 12, but most of his work with
students was in the middle and high school grades and focused on design
thinking, 3D modeling, social media, game design, and experimental
technologies. Before that, Basil was Director of Technology at The
Churchill School and Assistant Systems Administrator and Technology
Teacher at Regis High School, both in New York City.
He is a past president of NYCIST, the New York Consortium of Independent School Technologists; a member of the International Baccalaureate Educators Network where he serves as a workshop leader, site visitor, and consultant; and has presented at conferences and workshops around the country on innovation, inquiry-based learning, conceptual education, and student-centered activities. He has a B.A. in English and Education from Bates College and an M.A. in technology and education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
THE CENTER'S THREE PRONGED APPROACH
The Center works with faculty from all grades to ensure that the content matter is thought provoking, appropriately challenging, and accessible to all students. With an initial focus on the STEAM subjects (science, technology, arts, engineering, and math), the Center has worked with faculty as they adopted a new math program and has developed a five year course of study for Middle and Upper School students on computer science-based topics. While STEAM represents a particular way that subjects at RA intersect, through its curriculum review the Center works to increase the opportunities for interdisciplinary connections throughout the entire curriculum.
Teaching and Learning
The Center facilitates the continual exploration of successful teaching and learning methodologies so that our work in the classroom is not only engaging, but ensures that each child, regardless of ability, is taught in a way that is meaningful and relevant. With a focus on pedagogy and student enrichment, teachers at RA are encouraged to develop a range of learning experiences to reach the many different types of learners. Today’s students are going to face future challenges, jobs, technologies, and methods of communication that we have yet to conceive. To meet these challenges, students will need more than just facts and figures. They’ll need to know how to reason, evaluate, and explore. They’ll need creativity and confidence to challenge traditional means of problem solving and the skills to innovate. Ultimately, they will need to learn how to learn.
Our teachers are a vital part of our community of learners. As the world continues to evolve, teachers need to be supported through targeted professional development activities in order to gain the emerging skills and strategies that will help students succeed. The Center routinely meets with faculty and observes students to ensure our teachers have the necessary support to teach students in diverse ways that ensure that every student is engaged as they progress through the RA curriculum.
You can learn more about how The Center continues to enrich the lives of students and teachers by visiting the link below.