Westtown School

Team Members: Carl Beehler, Brooke Coleman, Carey Kopeikin, Celeste Payne, Ben Temple

Community: ADVIS Year 1, 2010-2011

While each team member had individual ideas of projects in which they were interested, we decided to develop a professional learning network (PLN) as an online community for boarding school educators to share ideas and to discuss best practices. Members of our team reached out to residential life leaders (including Deans of Residential Life and Deans or Directors of Students) at nine regional boarding schools.

How can boarding school educators share ideas and discuss best practices despite working at a distance from each other?

Objective: We wanted to create a professional learning networking for boarding school faculty.

Assessment: Self-sustained participation and discussion on the PLN would be the signs of long-term success of our project.

Our project timeline can be found on Dipity.
Our communication with other boarding schools clearly indicated interest in connecting with each other. However, the very nature of the job of a boarding school educator makes meeting face-to-face meetings a challenge. In some ways, we do not have a lot to show for our efforts. However, I think that we are confident that the PLN that we have developed is a great potential tool for boarding school educators to stay connected with each other.

We now have a list of contacts to whom we will continue to reach out. We already know that we will be meeting with residential life educators at least one other boarding school this fall.

Possible future topics for our PLN include:

  1. student handbooks
  2. residential life curriculum – does your school have one? how have you implemented it?
  3. dorm parents as residential life educators & leaders
  4. phones – how do you reach students with time sensitive information when they are not in class?
  5. acceptable use policies
  6. technology & social media use education
  7. inclusive policies addressing cross sex & same sex relationships
  8. policy on sexually intimate behavior between students
  9. alcohol & drug policy
  10. dress code
  11. weeknight evening schedule
Extensive documentation of the team’s project and helpful links can be found on the team’s wiki page.


About Action Research Projects

Action research is a process in which Powerful Learning Team members collaboratively examine their own educational practice systematically and carefully. Action research is:

  • Disciplined inquiry into a problem or possibility within the school or classroom
  • Collaborative and usually takes place in a community of practice
  • Meaningful, positive, and reflective
  • Data-driven, action-based, improvement-focused
  • Transformative

View all Action Research

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Sheryl is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Powerful Learning Practice. She works with schools and districts from around the world helping them to infuse technology into their curriculums and by leading other digital conversion efforts. Sheryl also consults with governments, educational organizations and non-profits in development of their various professional learning initiatives. Sheryl is a sought-after presenter at national and international events, speaking on topics related to digital and online learning, teacher and educational leadership, online community building, and other educational issues impacting children of poverty. Sheryl served on the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Board of Directors for six years. She co-authored The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age with Lani Ritter Hall. Sheryl has four children and four grandsons, Luke, Logan, Levi and Tanner and a trio of dachshunds. You can find out more on her blog and on Twitter @snbeach.

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