The Art and Science of Blended Learning: Preparing for the 2020–21 School Year

The Art and Science of Blended Learning: Preparing for the 2020–21 School Year
The Art and Science of Blended Learning: Preparing for the 2020–21 School Year
An interactive course for private school teachers of all levels

Virtual Course Dates: Monday, August 10–Sunday, August 23

Private-independent school teachers worked hard to pivot to distance learning this spring. Now we must consider the 2020-2021 school year.

Teachers must prepare to teach some of their classes at a distance, while also having a plan for teaching in their physical classrooms. This course will prepare teachers to redesign their classes with evidence-based practices that build student engagement and support in-depth learning—by experiencing such a class themselves. 

How This Course Works

This course comprises interactive modules (videos, slideshows, and other types of presentations) and online video and text discussions and forums.

Mike Gwaltney, ISM Consultant and Director of Online Learning, and Barbara Beachley, ISM Consultant and Director of Organizational Learning and Development, will act as tutors, coaches, and mentors along the way. They will check in with each learner as he or she progresses through the course.

Mike and Barbara will pace the course to give everyone the same tasks at the same time. Participants have the freedom to complete their individual work when their schedule allows, while having access to a cohort of fellow learners to ask questions and discuss the tasks. 

Teachers can expect to spend about 45 minutes to one hour per weekday (about 3-5 hours per week) working on the course. The actual amount will depend on each participant's engagement level in discussion boards, the complexity of the project(s) they take on, and the time they can commit.

This course covers the principles of both effective blended learning (classroom and online) and 100% online. We'll suggest ways teachers can facilitate classes in the 2020-21 school year.

Teachers will learn how to differentiate between learning activities that can successfully be used in the classroom, and those that work well in a distance learning format. Teachers will explore ideas for expanding the use of formative assessment to better support student learning at a distance.

This course also addresses some of the issues that often trip up teachers who are new to teaching online, such as how to build engagement and community; make asynchronous learning authentic, meaningful, and relevant; and assess learning effectively.

Topics Include

  • Differentiating effective learning designs for classroom and online learning
  • Fostering community and connectedness within the classroom as well as at a distance
  • Understanding how to make asynchronous work effective and meaningful
  • Determining how to create meaningful assessments and give feedback that improves student learning

Work With a Cohort of Peers

Participants will be grouped by grade division level, to the best of our ability, to ensure content is specific to your unique needs and challenges.


  • Discover how to backward design your classes so they can be offered in a blended online format.
  • Explore how to create engaging distance learning experiences for students.
  • Learn how to design assessments that help students move toward mastery of important content and skills.
  • Discover how to build community in your blended online classes.

Who Should Attend

Teachers of all subjects at all levels; academic leaders such as division heads, deans, curriculum directors; and anyone interested in strengthening their understanding of distance learning.

Because there is not a tradition of distance learning for young children, there is not much evidence to draw on to teach “best practices” for the youngest grades.

However, many practices have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic that are having some great results, and conform with what we already know about distance learning for older students. This course will give teachers of younger students a chance to understand important principles, learn from examples, and investigate important questions as they prepare to teach in a distance or blended format in 2020-2021.

Barbara Beachley

Barbara Beachley

ISM Director of Organizational Learning and Development | Consultant


Barbara provides her expertise in the areas of organizational systems and culture, academic leadership, employee evaluation and growth, student-centered and brain-based pedagogy, survey design, and data analysis.

Current Role

As Consultant and Director of Organizational Learning and Development, Barbara:

  • coordinates growth and leadership development programs for ISM employees;
  • tracks and curates ISM principles and curriculum;
  • consults; writes for Ideas & Perspectives; co-authors books; and conducts webinars in her areas of expertise;
  • facilitates workshops such as ISM’s Engaging Students in an Extended Period, Support Student Success with Faculty Growth and Evaluation Teachers Love!, and Transformative Academic Leadership;
  • presents at national and regional association conferences;
  • provides one-on-one leadership coaching to academic administrators
  • facilitates Board and school leadership retreats; and
  • conducts school survey data presentations for employees, students, Boards, and parents.

Prior Experience

Barbara joined ISM in 2011 after working in the field of education since 1996. She served as an ESL and adult literacy teacher at Boston University, MA; an upper school modern language teacher at the MacDuffie School, MA; and a language teacher and lead advisor at Collegiate School, VA. She also served as Academic Dean at Cape Henry Collegiate School, VA, where she oversaw curriculum and professional growth in grades PK−12.

While enrolled at Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh, she attended a year of high school in France through School Year Abroad. She later lived in Spain and Brazil, where she learned Spanish and Portuguese.


Barbara holds a bachelor’s degree in French and Spanish from Trinity College, CT; a master’s degree in applied linguistics from Boston University, MA; a master’s degree in educational administration from Harvard University, MA; and a master’s degree in independent school leadership from the Klingenstein Center at Teachers College, Columbia University, NY.

Personal Mission Statement

For all beings to be seen, heard, and valued.



Mike Gwaltney

Mike Gwaltney

ISM Director of Online Learning | Consultant


Mike is one of the pioneering leaders in online learning within the American private-independent school community. He is a recognized thought leader in developing constructivist learning experiences that connect students to each other online in highly collaborative, "high-touch" projects. Mike shares his expertise in blended, online, and project-based learning, along with faculty development and evaluation, high quality project-based learning, mission-based curriculum development, and transformative school leadership.

Current Role

As a Consultant for ISM, Mike advocates for progressive school approaches that include project-based and inquiry-based learning, equity-focused and evidence-based leadership, and connecting students with online communities and other learners around the world. Mike presents at regional and national conferences, and facilitates on-campus trainings and workshops for private-independent schools.

Prior Experience

Over his many years working in schools, Mike has led a variety of strategic academic initiatives while providing leadership and mentoring to scores of teachers. As a previous Head of Upper School at Rocky Hill School, RI, Mike helped lead school decisions on all issues related to academic and co-curricular programs.

Mike is the recipient of numerous teaching awards, including recognition as “Most Inspirational Teacher” by the Mayor of Los Angeles six times. His work has been featured on National Public Radio, the New York Times Learning Network, Edutopia, and in several recent books.

Mike was given the annual Friends of the Muslim Educational Trust Award in 2016 for envisioning and designing project-based blended-online learning opportunities between students at an Episcopal independent school and students from the muslim community in the Pacific Northwest. In February 2017, Mike was given the OESIS “Innovation Leader” award for Digital Citizenship, Project-based Learning, and Interdisciplinary Learning, and in 2020 Mike was named a OESIS Faculty PD Pathways Leader.


Mike received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from California State University at Fullerton.


How This Course Works

This course consists of interactive modules (videos, slideshows, and other types of presentations) and online video and text discussions and forums. Facilitators Mike and Barbara will act as tutors, coaches, and mentors along the way, checking in with each learner as they progress through the course.

The course will be paced so all participants will be given the same tasks at the same time. Participants have the freedom to complete their individual work when their schedule allows, while having access to a cohort of fellow learners to ask questions and discuss the tasks at hand. 

This course will take place virtually. Details will be sent to each participant after registration. 

Over the two weeks of this course, about how many hours a day would you expect teachers to spend? 

The course is designed to be entirely flexible so teachers can work on their own time. The facilitators provide teachers with tasks, guidance, and resources, and be available to tutor, coach, and mentor teachers as they "play in the sandbox," working on projects that are relevant to them. Teachers can expect to spend about 45 minutes - 1 hour per week day (about 3-5 hours per week) working on the course, with the actual amount depending on their level of engagement in discussion boards, the complexity of the project(s) they take on, and the time they feel they can commit.

If our school wants to enroll all of our faculty, about 45 teachers, could we have our own cohorts?

Yes! Please email to discuss. 

How will ISM communicate workshop information with me?

It is essential that your school approves the following email addresses from ISM:


You will be receiving all communication—including your confirmation email and access to your workshop's Google Drive account—from these emails.

What does my registration fee include?

All workshop materials are included.

Event Confirmation and Cancellation Policy

We take the health and safety of our school leaders seriously.

In an abundance of caution and to protect the health of all participants, ISM will hold only distance learning events until further notice.

Should ISM cancel an event, we ensure a 100% money-back guarantee for all registrants—so you can buy with confidence. You can feel free to direct any questions to

Confirmation and Cancellation Policy

Tuition Payment and Cancellation Policy for ISM’s Professional Development Events

Tuition must be paid in full 10 business days prior to the start date of the event. An attendee with a balance due on the start date will be denied entrance to the program until the balance is paid in full.

Cancellation requests must be made in writing by emailing, faxing to 302-656-0647, or mailing to: Event Experience Manager, ISM, 2207 Concord Pike, #417 Wilmington, DE, 19803.

  • Cancellations received more than 15 business days prior to the start date of the program will be fully refunded. Gold Dollars will also be fully refunded.
  • Cancellations received less than 15 business days prior to the start date of the program will not be refunded.
  • Non-payment of tuition or no-show to the event does not constitute a cancellation. Full tuition will be due and payable.

The Substitution Option and Wallet Option

If a member of your team can no longer attend a workshop for which they have registered and it is past the cancellation window, your school has two options to avoid penalty. Schools may also exercise these options at any time for cancellations. 

  1. The school may substitute another employee.
  2. The school may bank the funds for a future ISM registration. These funds must be applied to a professional development event within one year from the start date of the original workshop. After one year, the funds will be forfeited. To use banked funds, please call the Event Experience Manager at 302-656-4944 x152.

*We DO NOT accept enrollments from consultants.


Our Guarantee

ISM believes in providing quality and excellence in all of our events and in ensuring the satisfaction of everyone who attends. Nearly 100% of our participants say they would recommend our events to their colleagues. If you are not satisfied with your event for any reason, ISM will credit the fee you paid toward another similarly priced workshop or will refund it.

See our Confirm/Cancel policy here. If you have any questions, click below to send us an email. 

Course Registration

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