Archive for Professional Development

Faculty Summer Reading 2017

Each year, our faculty and staff members read from a selection of books and then gather during opening meetings to discuss and connect the themes to our work for the year. This year, we changed the book selection process. Instead of sending book descriptions in advance and collecting orders, we previewed the books with department heads, stood up during closing meetings to describe each title, and distributed books on the spot. We ordered more titles than needed, and people just selected the book that spoke to them. I thought I would have to return extras, but in fact people left nothing behind. Our faculty and staff love to read!

Here are the UPrep faculty reading selections for summer 2017.

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah

This story of Noah’s childhood connects to our work with global programs, diversity and equity, and social and emotional learning.

Publisher’s note:

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

Deliberate Optimism: Reclaiming the Joy in Education, by Debbie Thompson Silver

This book speaks to our social and emotional learning initiative, both in terms of teacher and student practice.

Publisher’s note:

In this book, learn to implement the Five Principles of Deliberate Optimism. Research-based strategies, practical examples, and thought-provoking scenarios help you

  • Rediscover motivation
  • Take a positive view of events beyond your control
  • Build an optimistic classroom where students flourish
  • Partner with other stakeholders to create an optimistic learning environment
  • Take the road to new potential and positive outcomes!

With a healthy dose of humor to make it fun, Deliberate Optimism shows you the actual differences a change in attitude can make.

The Devils Highway: A True Story, by Luis Alberto Urrea

This novel connects to our diversity and equity, multicultural, and social and emotional learning initiatives.

Publisher’s note:

In May 2001, a group of men attempted to cross the border into the desert of southern Arizona, through the deadliest region of the continent, a place called the Devil’s Highway. Fathers and sons, brothers and strangers, entered a desert so harsh and desolate that even the Border Patrol is afraid to travel through it. Twelve came back out. Now, Luis Alberto Urrea tells the story of this modern odyssey. The Devil’s Highway is a story of astonishing courage and strength, of an epic battle against circumstance. These twenty-six men would look the Devil in the eyes – and some of them would not blink.

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, by Jesmyn Ward

This title supports our continuing conversation about race, equity, and current events.

Publisher’s note:

In this bestselling, widely lauded collection, Jesmyn Ward gathers our most original thinkers and writers to speak on contemporary racism and race, including Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Edwidge Danticat, Kevin Young, Claudia Rankine, and Honoree Jeffers. “An absolutely indispensable anthology” (Booklist, starred review), The Fire This Time shines a light on the darkest corners of our history, wrestles with our current predicament, and imagines a better future.

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

This young adult novel connects to our diversity and equity initiatives, and well as social and emotional learning.

Publisher’s note:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter navigates between the poverty-stricken neighborhood she has grown up in and the upper-crust suburban prep school she attends. Her life is up-ended when she is the sole witness to a police officer shooting her best friend, Khalil, who turns out to have been unarmed during the confrontation – but may or may not have been a drug dealer. As Starr finds herself even more torn between the two vastly different worlds she inhabits, she also has to contend with speaking her truth and, in the process, trying to stay alive herself.

Teaching in the Fast Lane: How to Create Active Learning Experiences, by Suzy Pepper Rollins

This teaching guide supports our new schedule, in which we have moved from a mixture of 45 and 65 minute periods to consistent 70 minute period.

Publisher’s note:

Teaching in the Fast Lane offers teachers a way to increase student engagement: an active classroom. The active classroom is about creating learning experiences differently, so that students engage in exploration of the content and take on a good share of the responsibility for their own learning. It’s about students reaching explicit targets in different ways, which can result in increased student effort and a higher quality of work.

Using the strategies in this book, teachers can strategically “let go” in ways that enable students to reach their learning targets, achieve more, be motivated to work, learn to collaborate, and experience a real sense of accomplishment.

Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future, by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe

This book supports the types of contemporary thinking and decision-making behind our Next Generation Learning strategic initiatives.

Publisher’s note:

The world is more complex and volatile today than at any other time in our history. The tools of our modern existence are getting faster, cheaper, and smaller at an exponential rate, just as billions of strangers around the world are suddenly just one click or tweet or post away from each other. When these two revolutions joined, an explosive force was unleashed that is transforming every aspect of society, from business to culture and from the public sphere to our most private moments.

Such periods of dramatic change have always produced winners and losers. The future will run on an entirely new operating system. It’s a major upgrade, but it comes with a steep learning curve. The logic of a faster future oversets the received wisdom of the past, and the people who succeed will be the ones who learn to think differently.

In WHIPLASH, Joi Ito and Jeff Howe distill that logic into nine organizing principles for navigating and surviving this tumultuous period. From strategically embracing risks rather than mitigating them (or preferring “risk over safety”) to drawing inspiration and innovative ideas from your existing networks (or supporting “pull over push”), this dynamic blueprint can help you rethink your approach to all facets of your organization.

The incredible value of school visits

Our host approach us as we passed the school entrance. “Would you like to come in and put your things down?” “Actually we would very much like to watch students arrive to school,” we replied. Our host gazed at us with a puzzled look. “Why?” she asked. “Some in our community are concerned that students won’t use time before the start of school productively.” “You’re welcome to look around, but all you’ll see is students working, chatting, or having a snack.” Sure enough, students and teachers milled about with little concern.

Visiting other schools is a powerful way to encourage flexible thinking about change. It is human nature to stick with the status quo, as the known feels safer than the unknown. The perfect antidote is seeing a new idea working perfectly well in another school. If they can do it, why can’t we? Staff at other schools have put in the time, thought, and energy to design and implement change. We can benefit from each others’ good work.

Travel is expensive. How may a school fund such visits? One key is to frame them as a form of professional development. A school visit is like a conference minus the registration fee! Schools that demonstrate a commitment to professional learning often have success raising PD funds.

Travel is energizing. One of the benefits of being an education professional is the lifelong pursuit of one’s own learning. Visiting another institution is a rich source of new ideas, perspectives, and feedback. One can gain new contacts and expand one’s professional network.

The institutional value of school visits is tremendous. Schools that conduct visits learn from their hosts successes and mistakes and can implement new programs faster and smarter.

Engineering project at another school

 

Science project at another school

Moving Up and Growing Up

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Credit: PixelBay

In most schools, when you finish the highest grade, you graduate. Graduation, even in elementary school, signifies the completion of a phase of education and a progression to the next one. Even multi-division schools have adopted the phrase “moving up” to describe the completion of one phase of education without graduating.

Whether graduating or moving up, students grow enormously during these transitions from one division of education to the next. Fifth, eighth, and twelfth grade students are clearly the masters of their domains. They skillfully navigate their school communities, serve as role models to younger students, and naturally assume leadership roles and responsibilities.

Come autumn, these same students pour themselves into their new schools (or divisions), senses on high alert as they learn the routines, social cues, and personalities in their new educational environments. In just a few months, maturity, capabilities, and independence leap forward.

Why are these transitional moments so powerful for many students? Common sense suggests that students respond well to being treated more like adults. Each division brings new levels of independence. Middle school students are freed from direct supervision and make their own way from one class to the next. High school students gain off-campus privileges and either drive or take public transportation to school. Expectations for self-sufficiency in academics and social life increase. The markers of adulthood become increasingly common, and markers of childhood fade away, as students progress through school.

A more subtle effect also exists. Novelty is a powerful trigger for learning. Our brains are wired to pay attention to differences from the norm. As a results, students tend to fully engage themselves with the new educational environments in which they are suddenly immersed. Sadly, this effect is impermanent, though it seems to last longer for some students. The same may be said for the last months in the previous division. Culminating events such as the last play, the last playoff, and graduation leave lasting memories for their novelty and uniqueness.

These moments of transition and novelty may also inspire introspection and reflection. Our college office frames the search process as a personal journey of self-identification and then finding a match from among the thousands of colleges out there. Capstone projects and student presentations provide a stage to showcase one’s strengths and identity.

Teachers of these newly arrived students tend to exhibit a curious paradox. Staying in place while students move in and out, teachers view incoming students as the youngest and newest of the bunch, relatively unskilled and immature compared to their older peers. This effect is subjectively exaggerated beyond what is objectively true.

While incoming students clearly have yet to learn the ways of their new division, they have just come from a grade in which they were regarded as highly capable. Follow these students from one grade to the next, and see what I mean. Exacerbating the effect, teachers tend to receive students from multiple, different schools in their classes, meaning that the group as a whole possesses an even smaller set of common skills and knowledge than the teacher might prefer.

As you welcome new students this fall, just remember: each was likely regarded as very capable, mature, and reflective just a few months ago, and they now arrive highly attuned and eager to figure out their new school environment and be treated more like an adult. Relate to them accordingly, and you will likely get the most from them in these early months. Onward!

Faculty Summer Reading

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The faculty summer read promotes the sharing of fresh perspectives on education among us when students are away, and classes are not meeting. The book supports next year’s professional development work: to create program proposals for year 1 of our new strategic plan. During opening meetings, we will meet to discuss the books and identify promising ideas.

U Prep purchases these books and provides them to all faculty members and those staff members who would like to participate.

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— Citizen: An American Lyric —
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2014, by Claudia Rankine

“Marrying prose, poetry, and the visual image, Citizen investigates the ways in which racism pervades daily American social and cultural life, rendering certain of its citizens politically invisible. Rankine’s formally inventive book challenges our notion that citizenship is only a legal designation that the state determines by expanding that definition to include a larger understanding of civic belonging and identity, built out of cross-racial empathy, communal responsibility, and a deeply shared commitment to equality.”—National Book Award Judges’ Citation

Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seemingly slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV—everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.

More information: https://www.graywolfpress.org/books/citizen
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— Brooklyn Dreams: My Life in Public Education —
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2015, by Sonia Nieto

In Brooklyn Dreams, Sonia Nieto—one of the leading authors and teachers in the field of multicultural education—looks back on her formative experiences as a student, activist, and educator, and shows how they reflect and illuminate the themes of her life’s work.
Nieto offers a poignant account of her childhood and the complexities of navigating the boundaries between the rich culture of her working-class Puerto Rican family and the world of school. Brooklyn Dreams also chronicles her experiences as a fledgling teacher at the first bilingual public school in New York City—in the midst of the Ocean Hill-Brownsville strike—and the heady days of activism during the founding of the bilingual education program at Brooklyn College and later in establishing and running an alternative multicultural school in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Along the way, Nieto reflects on the ideas and individuals who influenced her work, from Jonathan Kozol to Paulo Freire, and talks frankly about the limits of activism, the failures of school reform, and the joys and challenges of working with preservice and in-service educators to deepen their appreciation of diversity.

Brooklyn Dreams is an intimate account of an educator’s life lived with zest, generosity, and warmth.

More information: http://hepg.org/hep-home/books/brooklyn-dreams
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— The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness —
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2016, by Todd Rose

Are you above average? Is your child an A student? Is your employee an introvert or an extrovert? Every day we are measured against the “average person,” judged according to how closely we resemble the average–or how far we exceed it. The assumption that average-based yardsticks like academic GPAs, personality tests, and annual performance reviews reveal something meaningful about our ability is so ingrained in our consciousness that we never question it. But this assumption, argues Harvard scientist Todd Rose, is spectacularly wrong.

In The End of Average, Rose, the director of the Mind, Brain, and Education program at Harvard University, uses the new science of the individual to reveal the remarkable fact that no one is average. Not your neighbors, not your co-workers, not your kids, and not you. This isn’t hollow sloganeering or ivory tower esoterica—it’s a frank mathematical fact with enormous practical consequences for your chances for success. Our schools and businesses are all designed to evaluate and promote talent based upon the mythical notion of the average person, a one-size-fits-all model that ignores the true nature of our individuality. But in The End of Average, Rose finally provides the tools to break free.

Weaving science, history, and his own experiences as a high school dropout, Rose offers a powerful alternative to the average–three key principles derived from the science of the individual: The jaggedness principle (talent is never one-dimensional), the context principle (personality traits do not exist), and the pathways principle (we all walk the road less traveled). These “principles of individuality” unveil our true uniqueness, long obscured by an educational system and workplace that relentlessly judges our value by weighing us against the average.

An empowering manifesto in the ranks of Drive, Quiet, Mindset, and The Power of Habit—Dr. Rose’s book will enable you to reach your full potential by leveraging what is truly distinctive about you.

More information: http://www.toddrose.com/endofaverage/
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— Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance —
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2016, by Angela Duckworth

In this instant New York Times bestseller, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”

Why do some people succeed and others fail? Sharing new insights from her landmark research, Angela explains why talent is hardly a guarantor of success.

Angela has found that grit—a combination of passion and perseverance for a singularly important goal—is the hallmark of high achievers in every domain. She’s also found scientific evidence that grit can grow.

Angela gives a first-person account of her research with teachers working in some of the toughest schools, cadets struggling through their first days at West Point, and young finalists in the National Spelling Bee. She also mines fascinating insights from history and shows what can be gleaned from modern experiments in peak performance. Finally, she shares what she’s learned from interviewing dozens of high achievers—from JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon to Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll.

Winningly personal, insightful, and even life-changing, Grit is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that—not talent or luck—makes all the difference.

More information: http://angeladuckworth.com/grit-book/

People of Color Conference 2016 Proposals Accepted

We are delighted to receive the news that the NAIS People of Color Conference accepted two of our faculty proposals. It is encouraging to receive affirmation of our ongoing efforts to revise course curricula for cultural competency and social justice. We will see you in Atlanta in December 2016!

¡No más!: Integrating Topics of Social Justice into the High School Spanish Classroom

Elena Tello and Ciara McGrath

Session participants will learn specific strategies to incorporate topics of social justice in the language class. Some topics include: Afro-Latin Identity, Argentina’s Dirty War, Pinochet’s Dictatorship, Bolivia’s Water War, and Immigration Routes to the North. Two presenters will share techniques used with students to enhance their understanding of past and current world events and lead to successful culminating projects and creating cultural experiences in the target language.

What About the Content? Revising Curricula For Social Justice and Educational Equity

Richard Kassissieh and E-chieh Lin

Has teaching for social justice and educational equity penetrated core secondary school curricula? Students spend three quarters of the school day in classes, working to master the knowledge and skills in discrete academic subjects. While diversity programs have made progress in improving classroom climate, launching new elective classes, and running special social justice programs, the content required of all students cannot remain unchanged if we are to fully serve our students. Participants will analyze selected independent school curricula for principles of human and civil rights, address questions of student inclusion and access, imagine an alternate vision of what their own school might teach in the future, and identify points of access to the process of curriculum revision.

Faculty and Staff Openings for 2016-2017

Middle School Science Teacher – primarily sixth and seventh grades integrated science

Visual Arts Teacher – primarily middle school, to include painting, drawing, sculpture, and possibly photo and video

Counselor – works with individual students, develops school programs for wellness and emotional climate

Our faculty is growing! This is our second year of adding new teaching positions in order to reduce teacher course loads. This is allowing our teachers to devote more time to work with students, collaboratively develop curriculum, and pursue individual teaching improvement projects. We are transitioning our teachers to a standard load of four courses each semester (five each semester in physical education), as well as further reducing the loads of our teacher leaders (department heads and grade level deans).

Proud of Northwest Independent Schools

Yesterday, our association of Northwest independent schools stated its unequivocal support for educational equity by organizing our annual educators conference around themes of inclusivity and transformational moments. The conference drew 1,500 attendees, historically its largest draw. Our conference planning committee was extremely thankful to Lakeside School for hosting this large event.

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The conference consisted of two keynote presentations, several featured presentations, and dozens of participant-led workshops. MK Asante started the day off with a gripping, humorous, and emotional accounting of his youth and how one critical moment in an independent school saved his life.

Featured speakers delivered superb workshops during the day. Presenters included Alison Park, Janice Toben, Elizabeth McLeod, Michael Gurian, Thomas Hoerr, Jennifer Bryan, Heather Clark, Rosetta Lee, Maketa Wilborn, and Cindy Goldrich.

Northwest teacher leaders and program directors led the breakout sessions, which covered topics from Writing as Healing to STEM Educators for Social Justice. Attendees expressed a ton of enthusiasm for these peer-led session, as audiences filled the rooms and flowed out the doors. U Prep was proud to lead four breakout sessions.

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When classrooms proved too small, people got creative and went outdoors.

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Phillip Craig From Oregon Episcopal School created a unique “sacred space” in the Lakeside library. I was very impressed by how the environment brought together concepts of mindfulness, contemplation, consideration of others, and spirituality. Most of our schools have nothing like this.

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I attended the featured presentation by Heather Clark, instructor of anthropology at the UW and teacher at Rainier Scholars. Heather skillfully guided the audience through an anthropological perspective on diversity and inclusivity, interspersed with examples from participants.

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Steven Jones delivered the closing keynote, “Manage or be Managed by our Unconscious Bias.” Jones began with a personal recollection of the Million Man March, which took place 20 years ago. Attendance was still robust at the end of the day, reflecting attendees’ engagement and interest.

Here is the Twitter “transcript” of the conference.

Summer Readings on School Change

The topic of school change is ever present and active. During this year’s opening faculty meetings, U Prep teachers discussed five books that describe the leading edge of school change. An overall theme emerged from the books. In the present era of rapid change in society and the failure of state standardized testing to improve education, educators are once again designing instruction with the student at the center of the learning experience. In this article, I highlight the related ideas from our five summer reading selections that most resonated with our teachers.

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The group that read 5 Minds for the Future (Howard Gardner) expressed particular interest in multidisciplinary, thematic inquiry. Most real-world questions that speak to student experience require multiple disciplines to fully address. As an example, the group speculated that the fine arts would be a particularly good subject to integrate with other academic subjects. They then questioned the value of the academic departments that we currently have. Would students be better served by multidisciplinary, thematically-based departments that focus on the higher-order skills we desire for our students? One can imagine departments along different lines than our current academic subjects: logic and reasoning, ethics, data analysis, and so on.

Both the #EdJourney (Grant Lichtman) and 5 Minds discussion groups addressed the value of experiential education. Echoing Dewey, the groups upheld the value of direct engagement, questioning, analysis, and presentation for student learning. In an age of ubiquitous access to information, students most need to learn to ask good questions and identify patterns in the world. When we invited three students to make the culminating presentation of our opening meetings, they spoke to the great value of the experience-based, study away programs that they attended last year.

These same two faculty groups considered the need to restructure the school day and calendar year to support experiential education and deep learning. Running five to seven class periods in a day, while a rational compromise among different interests, ultimately undermines depth and continuity of study. What schedule might better serve students? The books included a number of possible alternatives from schools across the country.

The concepts of agency, risk, challenge, and failure generated much teacher interest. As one colleague has wryly noted, “failure is not an option” at high-performing independent schools. To avoid failure, young adults may take the less risky route, focusing on more on completion and compliance than on intellectual engagement. The student who stays quiet in class in an effort to identify the “right answer” misses the opportunity for personal growth and advancement. Both Loving Learning (Tom Little and Katherine Ellison) and How Children Succeed (Paul Tough) tell the stories of students who set ambitious goals, exhibited optimism, developed resilience, and overcame obstacles. Real learning requires meaningful challenge within a supportive environment.

Listen to enough great stories of student learning, and one thread is sure to emerge: student agency. When students are the primary actor in their own play, they shape meaningful parts of their own education, rather than having education done to them. Student choice, student leadership, project-based learning, and other examples from Loving Learning and other books explain how schools may design opportunities for student agency and passion.

How may teachers effectively lead classroom conversations about race if both they and students feel uncomfortable and ill-equipped to navigate such topics? Each chapter of Raising Race Questions (Ali Michael) discusses a concept or skill essential to teacher cultural competency. The two faculty groups that read this book expressed the conviction to engage with the tough questions that come up in class discussion, whether expected or not. They identified the elements required to make this journey: development of positive racial identity, identification of “hidden” race dynamics in subject matter, teacher growth mindset, intersectionality, and norms for courageous conversations.

In a recent article, Brian Hart exposed the flawed design of most faculty professional development in independent schools. At U Prep, we align professional development and planning days around central themes, so that a teacher may build understanding of key concepts, and design and test methods of practice, over time and in collaboration with colleagues. The summer faculty reads carry forward last year’s professional development theme of Teaching for Understanding into this year’s strategic planning work on Next Generation Learning.

 

My Professional Development This Year

Amidst planning full faculty professional development activities for this year, I have also lined up a few dates for myself. My activities this year focus on leadership, curriculum revision, and social justice in education.

School Library Journal Leadership Summit

September 26-27, Seattle

I have never been to a full-on library conference, and yet I supervise our library director. It’s time to check this out.

NWAIS Educators Conference

October 9, Seattle

I have helped organize this one. Our regional association’s annual conference will feature an outstanding lineup of national and regional speakers on topics of social and cultural diversity and social justice. I am proud of NWAIS for embracing this topic in a timely manner. It is quite likely that diversity and justice will remain at or near the tops of our schools’ agendas for years to come. Students get the day off, and our entire faculty will attend.

Northwest Conference on Teaching for Social Justice

October 17, Seattle

I am looking forward to experiencing this annual conference. A colleague brought this to my attention, and a number of our teachers plan to attend.

Independent Curriculum Group Academic Leaders Retreat

November 4-6, Abiquiu, New Mexico

Peter Gow and Jonathan Martin have organized an agenda that balances learning sessions, unconference discussions, and social time. I am looking forward to my first academic leadership conference since turning to instruction full-time. I also plan to soak in the New Mexico landscape, not having visited since 1994. U Prep became an ICG Partner this year.

NAIS Annual Conference

February 24-26, San Francisco

The single most attended annual event among independent school administrators. There is no better opportunity to reconnect with former colleagues and associates and learn the latest about their initiatives and challenges. The conference sessions themselves are a great way to understand what indy schools are focusing on. Last year, I resolved that it was not really possible to present a session, attend sessions, and recruit at the hiring fair. I resolve to do just two of these three this year.

 

What are you up to this year?

Teachers Deserve Good Pedagogy, Too

Also published at Leadership + Design

Let’s play a word association game. When I say a term, note the next thought that comes to your mind. Ready? “PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT!” What first comes to your mind? Conference? Meeting? Ugh? If we understand how students learn best, then we should also practice good pedagogy when leading professional development programs.

Teachers more fully engage in learning activities that address authentic aspects of practice. What issues most commonly challenge teachers: motivating all students to learn; teaching for understanding, not just knowledge; supporting diverse groups of learners? Effective professional development activities express a clear learning goal and apply theory toward specific outcomes. For example, one might reserve half the day for teachers to explore applications, redesign instructional units, and share their products.

Effective teachers combine a variety of techniques to design learning environments and develop student understanding.
Teachers approach topics from different perspectives, promote active engagement with ideas and evidence, and make student thinking visible. In order to actually adopt a new technique proposed during professional development, teachers need to know how that idea might complement the other tools in their toolkit. Teachers are unlikely to integrate widely divergent strategies into their current practice.

Research suggests that observation and feedback have the greatest potential to improve teacher practice. So, why then are conferences and faculty meetings the most common forms of professional development? Make class observations integral to your school’s professional development program. It’s best if peer teachers conduct the observations, and such activities are not connected to teacher evaluation. Teachers can also video a class and study the recording with colleagues.

As with students, teachers learn best when they study collaboratively. Working in groups, teachers share ideas and build perspective together. In a gallery walk, lead teachers exhibit innovative practices and answer questions. In a faculty “unmeeting”, teachers generate topics and facilitate discussions. Professional learning communities, teacher cohorts, and critical friend groups maintain such collaborative relationships over time. Teacher leadership distributes the responsibility for professional growth to all members of the faculty. Consortia and networks extend these connections to other institutions.

Why not put students at the center of professional development activities? Invite a panel of students to describe their learning to your faculty. Have each teacher shadow a student for a day. When you observe classes, document what the students are doing, not just the teacher. Ask teachers to contact recent alumni and ask them whether they found themselves well prepared for the next step.

NAIS has recognized University Prep’s Individualized Teacher Improvement Program for innovation and excellence.