Welcome back! As the newly-formed PDRC, Catapult Learning provides high quality professional development to religious and independent school educators on Long Island and throughout the state. We look forward to continuing our professional learning partnership throughout school year 2020-21. We understand the challenges the new school year brings and are committed to supporting professional learning that is responsive to school needs.


The 36th Annual Religious and Independent School Educator Conference is going virtual with 4 days of keynotes and live PD sessions: November 9-12, 2020.

Leadership Corner: Building A Positive School Culture In Uncertain Times by Mitch Center

Watching TV this weekend, I could see the world is adapting to the current situation we are living in. I saw an insurance commercial with actors wearing masks, a preview for a new TV show called “Love in the Time of Covid,” and multiple “back to school” commercials featuring kids engaging with classes over laptops. Just one year ago none of us could have imagined a world in which summertime back to school commercials showing kids and teachers smiling through video conferences, and yet here we are launching virtual, hybrid and in some cases very modified in-person school experiences for kids.

In all the commercials I saw, kids were *smiling*. Now, these are ads – actors are always smiling in ads – but it begs the question, how can we make this happen in real life? How can we create virtual school cultures where kids and adults can thrive?

A fundamental teaching concept is that new learning is best cemented when attached to previous experiences and learning. It’s why we activate and build prior knowledge before engaging with unfamiliar texts. So how could we apply that big idea to these current times? What do we already know about school culture under “normal” circumstances that could be translated or adapted to our new reality?

The National School Climate Center describes five dimensions of school culture. Each of these can be explored on their own and modified for virtual settings. Following is a look at the five domains they highlight, and a few sample questions school communities should be exploring. As you read through, consider: What else should your school be asking to best ensure you launch and sustain a positive school culture and climate?

1. Safety: What rules and norms need to be created in on-line classrooms so kids can feel emotionally safe? How will video conferencing be made available and comfortable for all students?

2. Teaching / Learning: What teaching practices will support all learners? How could feedback be maximized? How will teachers ensure all voices are heard?

3. Interpersonal Relationships: How will we ensure every student has at least one caring and supportive adult who will consistently be there for them? How will classes and schools embrace diverse student bodies ensuring that all are respected? How will adults and students in need be supported?

4. Institutional Environment: What norms, traditions and rituals could the school continue to carry on virtually? If the principal typically did morning announcements, might those be replicated with a daily video? How will families stay connected?

5) Leadership: How will administration communicate clearly and consistently so that their messages can be accessed by all? How will leaders promote collaboration and mutual learning amongst teachers?

Let’s start the new year with the optimism and the belief that what we know about creating climate and culture under normal circumstances – and likewise, what we know about teaching and learning! – can be adapted for these unusual times. Let’s also remember, none of us are alone in this work, and by engaging with each other, we all get better. Wishing you all the best as you launch in September!

Mitch Center provides leadership professional development and coaching for Catapult Learning and is a monthly contributor to our Leadership Corner Conversation.

NOW AVAILABLE! Working with Google Classroom Webinars

Our popular workshop series focused on introducing educators to the Google Classroom platform and getting them up to speed to provide the best educational tools possible to students in now available for viewing through the form below!

View Archived Webinars

Upcoming Webinars!

New for Fall 2020!

The full schedule of Fall virtual workshops for religious and independent school educators will be available soon!

Live Workshop are CTLE-eligible.

  • Leadership Circles

  • Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning Strategies

  • Best Digital Tools to Integrate with Google Classroom

  • Teaching STEAM Virtually

  • and many more!

Spotlight Series: Becoming a Digital Expert!

This month’s topic: Sharing Resources with Families

As we begin the new school year, I suggest that your instructional recommendations to families follow a format of: What, Why, and How. After you find a great resource for families, like a podcast with read aloud stories, or a website with math tutorials, use this format when making your recommendation for families. The What, is simply naming the app or website and describing what it does. The Why, establishes your purpose for sharing it, such as it helps students build listening skills (podcast) or helps students understand challenging math problems (tutorials). The How, shares strategies for using it at home, such as listening to a podcast together as a family, or using a math tutorial website when you are struggling to answer a question. You can find more tips for sharing favorite resources for families in this podcast episode or on this blog post. Help families support their children with tech-friendly recommendations this year!

–Monica Burns, Ed.D, author of Tasks Before Apps

Catapult Learning is proud to provide professional development to religious and independent schools on Long Island through our partnership with New York State Education Department and the Professional Development Resource Centers. The purpose of this monthly newsletter to share PD updates as well as relevant educational updates issued by NYSED. If you would like this newsletter emailed directly to additional staff members, please let us know by going to our website and complete the ‘Contact Us’ form: www.catapultlearning.com/nyspdrc/.

This newsletter is presented by Catapult Learning in partnership with the New York State Department of Education.

Catapult Learning, LLC 32 Broadway, Suite 1502, New York, NY 10004
For questions, or inquiries, please email rita.stavrou@catapultlearning.com
Or visit the Long Island PDRC website: www.catapultlearning.com/nyspdrc/

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