Online Learning at Notre Dame
For the health and safety of our Notre Dame community, the Academy transitioned to a complete online teaching/learning environment effective March 16, 2020.
“We are well prepared for this transition. Throughout these years, Notre Dame has created a technologically sophisticated learning environment with enhanced mobility features. Together, we move into this new opportunity for our teaching/learning community. The Academy of Notre Dame de Namur has provided an outstanding educational experience since 1856. These days and months ahead—in an online environment—will continue that fine tradition.” Dr. Judith A. Dwyer, Head of School
This page will serve as a resource for our community and will be updated with current communications, status updates, and health and wellness resources.
For technical issues:
Technology Department, firstname.lastname@example.org
Strategic Planning Prepares Academy
for Smooth Transition to Online Environment
In February 2020, as information from the CDC, international, state, and local health agencies raised concerns regarding the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, Notre Dame began to take steps to safeguard the health and safety of the learning community. At the same time, the Academy assessed plans to deploy the school’s online learning protocol, under continuous development through the Academy’s 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, Our Time to Inspire, if needed. On March 12, Head of School, Dr. Judith A. Dwyer informed the community that instruction would transition to a fully online environment, effective March 16. Online teaching and learning continued through the remainder of the academic year.
The seamless movement to an online environment demonstrated immense flexibility and innovation by students and teachers.
Within the online environment, faculty continued to emphasize the importance of relationships, meeting their students through Google Meet (a Google-based video conferencing service) in small and large-group settings. They leveraged resources like YoTeach!, or Kahoot to facilitate discussion, maintain routine, and provide feedback, as in a traditional classroom.
Teachers employed video software to revamp their instruction, using applications like QuickTime and Screencast-o-Matic to record lectures, notes, discussions, sample annotations, and labs. They also utilized the Google Suite of applications, Educreations, and Edpuzzle to assign work for students to complete asynchronously, encouraging students to learn at their own pace. Asynchronous learning encouraged students to take breaks from the screen, a necessity in an online environment. Professional development sessions, conducted through zoom, reviewed the pedagogical benefits of technological applications, such as FlipGrid. Students observed the Academy's Online School Protocol and Etiquette guidelines (below), which included wearing their ND polo or ND Sweatshirt when conferencing with teachers for class.
Notre Dame’s Counseling Office responded to the new virtual learning environment by providing students and parents with assistance in creating schedules for time management, offering support to address the impact of reduced in-person student social interactions with classmates, and to provide overall support for families. The counselors, in coordination with the physical education department, also provided self-care guidance in the Academy’s weekly newsletter to help students and families stay mentally and physically fit. The Academy’s College Counseling office remained in close contact with the Class of 2020 as they navigated the college acceptance process, and provided support for our juniors, through online college counseling classes and a virtual Underclass Parent Night. Juniors participated in a virtual Common Application workshop in May and will have the opportunity to participate in virtual mock interviews, essay-writing workshops, and counselor chats during the summer. Sophomore students had the opportunity to take an at-home Diagnostic SAT/ACT test in early June.
Throughout the statewide school closure, Notre Dame engaged in a continuous improvement process to provide students with an impactful and holistic learning experience. Student, parent, and faculty surveys yielded important and actionable feedback, including the development of “Wednesday Work Day.” No formal classes were scheduled during the Work Day to provide teachers with additional time for professional learning, planning, and student meetings. The day provided students with an important balance between classroom screen time and non-screen activities. Students were encouraged to engage in physical fitness, yoga/meditation, prayer, and relationship-building. Notre Dame values these activites as vital components of a well-rounded curriculum.
Daily prayer, a constant throughout the academic year, along with Wednesday Community Prayer, continued under the leadership of the Academy’s Director of Campus Ministry, Mrs. Julia Tully, and her team of her team of Campus Ministry student leaders. Students and parents were encouraged to center themselves and unite through a shared prayer emailed to them at the start of each day. Wednesday Community Prayer videos sent to the ND community included reflections and readings by students. “Notre Dame continues to lead in the online education environment, providing a high-quality and rigorous curriculum while balancing the challenges the COVID-19 situation presented to our community,” said Mr. Tyler Gaspich, Director of Information Resources and Technologies. “I was impressed with the tenacity, dedication, and flexibility of our students and teachers during this time!"
“Thank you ND faculty and staff! Charlotte is dancing and Emmeline is taking an AP stat test at the same time in our home. Who could have imagined? But here we are and we are so pleased with how quickly and effectively school was set in motion. (And, the uniform requirement is brilliant as far as I’m concerned!) Thank you and stay healthy everyone!