Prep Faculty Work with Expert to Fortify Distance Teaching Skills


Sandia Prep faculty members have been building on their initial success with distance learning by fortifying their skills with a series of professional development seminars this summer.

Facilitated by Sandia Prep parent and instructional system designer Susan Boye-Lynn, (Cal Boye-Lynn '21) teachers are learning everything from sequencing material to creating effective assessments. Special emphasis is being paid to creating and maintaining the community for which Prep is known, Boye-Lynn explains.

“Instructors are learning how to set up courses to have multiple points of contact each week, so that students are getting the feedback they need,” she says.

Over the course of seven seminars, the faculty are working together “to find learning solutions that will allow them to start off the new school year strong and keep the independence and quality of the Sandia Prep education at the highest possible levels,” she adds.

Prep will use a combination of in-person and on-campus learning. “What a lot of people do not see is just how hard it is to move classroom instruction to blended and distance formats,” Boye-Lynn says. “The average time it takes to move one hour of classroom instruction online is 18 hours.”

College instructors usually have an entire semester to prepare a single course, and Prep faculty managed to get all of their classes online in less than two weeks last semester, says Boye-Lynn, owner of Pepper and Pear Instructional Design, LLC.

Managing those classes behind the scenes also takes significantly more time than classroom courses, so “Prep is taking steps to make sure that whatever organization and support the teachers need is available to them,” she adds.

Feedback from students and parents to Prep’s launch of distance learning, necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, was overwhelmingly positive.

Prep science teacher Amy James said she appreciates the support faculty members are receiving through the seminars so they can fine-tune their approach.

“It took me about an hour of prep time for 10 minutes of Zoom class,” James explained. “The lack of in-person labs is pretty frustrating to a science teacher. Trying to re-work materials that I have loved using in person so they can be used online takes a lot of time.”

Through Boye-Lynn’s training, James says she’s picked up “some great ideas on how to schedule the week in online class as well as good ideas on how to establish rapport when you aren’t meeting the kids in person.”

The professional development means that Prep teachers will be ready for whatever method of instruction they’ll need to deliver. “Since we do have some time to think this summer, I am sure the coming school year will be an improvement over fourth quarter, even if we still can’t be 100 percent in person,” she says.

Assistant Head of School Dr. Cheryl McMillan initiated the seminars, and the Prep IT Department has been working with Boye-Lynn to devise solutions that help faculty.

Boye-Lynn has built online training for Presbyterian Healthcare Services. Her expertise is in connecting content, media, and audience for the purpose of learning.