Learning How to Distance Learn

Courtney Ulmer, Assistant Head of School for Academics
What we know about Miss Charlotte and the School she founded was that she wanted her girls to rise and meet any challenge. The COVID-19 global pandemic has tested us all over the past few weeks and will continue to do so over the upcoming months and longer. Miss Charlotte would have made sure that there would continue to be opportunities for learning and teaching no matter the circumstances. While she might not have predicted Google Docs and Zoom meetings (or maybe she could have), what she could have anticipated is how well current Foxcroft students and teachers would adapt to distance learning and to “keeping up with the times.”
It’s remarkable how much we have adapted and adjusted over the past six weeks, and we have done so with our students and our Foxcroft community at the center of each decision. We extended Spring Break for students to give faculty time to prepare to teach distance learning classes during a weeklong Faculty In-service. Matt Norko, our Director of Technology, and Alex Northrup, our Director of The Innovation Lab, used that time to run workshops on online tools and resources for distance learning. In addition, as they have had time, faculty have attended online classes and workshops and participated in discussions with peers in associations and other schools to brainstorm, learn, and collaborate as they navigate this new paradigm. Just as we have for our students, we have emphasized the importance of balancing work, self-care, home, and family for our teachers too.

We created an asynchronous distance learning schedule, which allows for weekly student and teacher contact time, synchronous community time, times for students in different parts of the world to connect with teachers and the community, and time for faculty to meet as well. As we learn what works and what does not work well, we make adjustments to the schedule. Our teachers have adapted their curriculum to our adjusted schedule and adapted to what they can do and do well using technology, always keeping in mind the external stressors that students and families are experiencing. Our Learning Center team has completely reorganized how they work with students, creating time for one-on-one student meetings, as well as scheduled periods for students to check into the Learning Center to work and get help during the school day like they would if they were on campus.  

As always, we are guided by our understanding hearts as we work with our students and make decisions about how best to support them during this period of distance learning.

Thank you for continuing to reach out to faculty and staff with words of encouragement and offers of help. Your words touch our hearts and lift our spirits more than you will ever know. Several of you have also asked how you can help the School during this challenging time. If you are in a position to help,
please know that a gift to The Foxcroft Circle directly supports the people who teach and advise, who support our academic mission and program in their work outside the classroom, and who care for our 500-acre campus and buildings.
An all-girls boarding and day school in Northern Virginia, Foxcroft prepares young women in grades 9-12 for success in college and in life. Our outstanding academic program offers challenging courses, including Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM program. Our premiere equestrian program is nationally recognized, and our athletic teams have won conference and state championships. Experience the best in girls' boarding schools: visit Foxcroft.