I am Mike Gwaltney, an educator, consultant, speaker, and writer. I work for Independent School Management inc. (ISM) as an ISM Consultant and ISM’s Director of Online Learning.
Over three decades in private-independent schools, I was a teacher, department head, division head / high school principal, and an Assistant Head of School, not to mention a whole host of other roles, like soccer coach, task force leader, etc. Now I consult on various topics related to curriculum, assessment, and instruction, as well as in school leadership, including school-wide strategic planning and transformative academic leadership.
As a teacher, I primarily taught courses in history and government, in the most student-centered ways I was able. People know me for “alternative,” authentic approaches to assessment—thinking like an assessor about what students know and can do—and for my progressive approaches to teaching, including project-based and inquiry-based learning, and for my work in online and distance learning. Occasionally I write about curriculum, assessment, and instruction in the humanities, and I lead workshops on how to build mission-/values-based coursework that students love.
I was was one of the pioneers in student-centered K-12 online / distance learning when I began “blending” my brick-and-mortar classes using online discussions and blog posts in 2001. Since then, I have focused on developing constructivist learning experiences that connect students to each other online, and face-to-face, in highly collaborative, real world learning. From 2010-2014, I taught high school social science and professional development courses for the Online School for Girls as one of the inaugural-year teachers. In 2011, I assisted in the first-ever accreditation of a private-independent, student-centered, fully online school. In 2011, I was the keynote speaker and workshop leader for the 2011 California Association of Independent Schools’s annual day of Professional Development on Blended/Online Learning. From 2013-2017, I led the development of the award-winning program in Portland, Oregon called “American Story,” a blended/online learning experience for students in the city’s private-independent schools. I completed a Masters focused on Constructivist / Progressive, Student-Centered Distance Learning in 2016.
I have worked with schools and organizations all over the world, and have presented at major international, national and regional conferences. I have received numerous teaching awards, including recognition as “Most Inspirational Teacher” by the Mayor of Los Angeles six times. My work has been featured on National Public Radio, Edutopia, and in several books about 21st Century teaching/learning and project-based learning.
I have been honored to serve on four Boards, including most recently for the Independent Curriculum Group. I have volunteered extensively for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and other civic organizations. I am passionate about engaged citizenship, and write about it from time to time. I spend my free time hiking and backpacking, playing tennis, trying to improve as an amateur photographer, and watching Liverpool F.C.
All opinions expressed on my blog are exclusively my own, and do not necessarily express those of my employer, ISM inc. (though I intend that they are always well informed by ISM’s research and principles).