Wendy Eiteljorg ’86: Leading the Future of Teaching and Learning

Jared Scott Tesler
In 2009, Director of Curricular Innovation and Learning Design Wendy Eiteljorg ’86 was named a “Teacher of the Future” by the National Association of Independent Schools for the forward-thinking integration of blogs and wikis into her fifth grade curriculum. Eiteljorg has been fearlessly and strategically leading the School’s educational technology initiatives for nearly a decade, since assuming her previous role as Director of Educational Technology in 2012.
“I’m most effectively supporting other teachers when I can suggest a way to do something that someone couldn’t even articulate yet or was just starting to articulate,” Eiteljorg says. “Educational technology allows teachers to answer questions and do things in ways they couldn’t do otherwise—not just substituting and augmenting conventional educational activities, but crossing the line into modifying and redefining them.”
Most recently, together with administrators, curriculum leaders, and teachers, Eiteljorg has been busy with Shipley’s transition to online teaching and learning amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “Starting with the end in mind,” she is applying the Understanding by Design—or backward design—educational planning approach as a framework for supporting teachers in redesigning and adapting curriculum units, instructional methods, and performance assessments.
“We have to be very clear about what our learning goals are. Then we consider what types of proof of learning we’ll accept as evidence. Finally, we’ll think about our learning activities,” Eiteljorg says, noting the importance of revisiting classroom expectations and re-evaluating what types of activities need to be done together in a virtual meeting and what students do independently. “This will be a challenge for teachers and students alike. We will all have to embrace being lifelong learners right now. I’m sure this experience will add tools to everyone’s toolbox.”
Eiteljorg’s preparation for this transition is in part informed by her experience as a Lower School student in Beechwood House, in the days of the ‘open classroom’ when students in grades one through three were in mixed classes. From a very early age, she says, she “loved feeling empowered” to take ownership of her learning by completing her daily schoolwork independently and at her own pace. The same will be required of all Shipley students beginning on March 30, 2020, when the School launches its online learning program, Shipley Learns Online.

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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.