Since it was launched three months ago, dozens of Folio member schools have introduced the new Workspaces feature to their communities, increasing faculty and staff’s conversations and collaboration.
Workspaces allow Folio administrators to create groups of users who can develop and track milestones (called “Waypoints” in Workspaces) specific to that group and separate from the school’s academic timeline. Workspaces provide the flexibility and customization that Folio members have recommended, so they can harness the power of the Folio platform for their schools’ unique ways of working and varying professional development initiatives.
Workspaces are already proving to be a great place for academic departments and peer cohorts that support each other’s unique responsibilities and professional growth. Some schools are also using this customization to support their specific observation schedules and practices.
For example, many schools’ processes for observation and feedback for new teachers differ from those for returning faculty. One such school is The Athenian School in Danville, CA. Says Louis Tullo, the school’s Director of Educational Technology, “With Waypoints, our first-year faculty can have different milestones and processes that can be looked at separately from the other faculty. This flexibility allows us to be more high touch and was a huge plus when we were signing on to Folio.”
Virginia Episcopal School (VES) in Lynchburg, VA has also created a Workspaces group for new teachers. “Through notes and spotlights, we can give these new faculty immediate feedback and support their growth as soon as they enter our community,” notes Jenny Anderson, VES’s Dean of Faculty.
Every faculty member at VES is already using Workspaces. There are groups established for each academic department, dorm heads, athletic coaches and faculty with student life responsibilities – each with their own schedules and processes for recording and reporting feedback.
According to Jenny, “Workspaces is fun, and our teachers are asking for more cohorts,” including for faculty teaching AP courses and for new-career teachers. In fact, 60% of VES teachers attended a recent optional meeting to discuss expanding their use of Workspaces.
Derek Krein at Tabor Academy in Marion, MA echoes these sentiments. “Workspaces allow us to step out of the stream of the school year and create a place for teams that want to be learning and growing together outside the yearly timeframe. Workspaces allow us to have a platform and process that fits our protocol, not trying to make our protocol fit Folio.”
For example, Tabor Academy created Workspaces for participants involved in individual teachers’ 12-week review process. Says Derek, “This is a chance to have a conversation around growth pursuits that a teacher has identified – a briefer, concentrated, deep dive into the faculty member rather than on an annual basis.”
Tabor Academy is also using Workspaces to convene other cohorts. For example, the Student Life team has recently started using it. As Derek says, “We don’t have to keep finding the time when all five of us can meet; we can put something in Workspaces, digest it, then meet in a smaller group to accelerate our conversations. It allows us to see each other and get to know one another.”
Like Derek Krein at Tabor Academy, Gwyneth Connell at Pomfret School finds that specific Workspaces enhance staff collaboration. “Our staff wear a ton of different hats: our curriculum coordinator teaches history; our head of winter intersession teaches French. Creating Workspaces that bring together the different kinds of people on campus who work on similar things enhances collaboration.” Gwyneth is encouraging staff to create any and all Workspaces – and staff is responding: Workspaces at Pomfret include athletic coaching, residential life, admissions, senior administration, curriculum innovation, academic departments and more.
Says Gwyneth, “We’re so busy day-to-day just doing our jobs that it’s easy to forget we’re doing some pretty important and impactful work. Workspaces allow us to slow down, record our experiences and perspectives, and reflect on them with those who share our unique responsibilities.”