Professional Collaboration Time Set Aside for Teachers
Allen-Stevenson believes that professional development, and the growth of our teachers and staff, is just as important as the growth of our boys. So, specific Professional Collaboration Time (PCT) has been set-aside on seven Wednesday late afternoons throughout the school year for faculty and staff to meet in groups to plan with or learn from each other. Scheduling during the day can make it challenging for some groups to find time to collaborate and equally for others to share knowledge about new teaching tools or methods, all of which expand our teachers’ toolkits.
On October 17, the first of such PCT afternoons took place. Various groups of teachers gathered to share time brainstorming, whether it was to create a unit incorporating both art and music, to plan new ideas for the Middle School history curriculum or to flesh out STEAM projects in different grades.
Andy Zevon, Director of Technology, and Marissa Zelmanowicz, Technical Support Specialist & Help Desk Manager, taught interested teachers about the Legamaster board and the Tango Teach software—technology tools that teachers are using in multiple ways in their classrooms. They demonstrated how to use the board and the software and how it promotes collaboration amongst the boys. Teachers were able to ask how they could use the Legamaster in their specific classes and get unfettered access to our Technology team. A few teachers began the lesson with basic knowledge of the Legamaster, but by the end were excitedly discussing new and ingenious ways they could use it and Tango Teach to promote active learning.
Jenn Zimmermann, Assistant Head for Curriculum and Teaching Grades 1 and 2, led a discussion about selecting books to lead Social Emotional Learning by increasing diversity in classroom collections. Teachers took turns sharing different books that included a more diverse group of characters. The group talked about the value of storytelling; the different ways stories can speak to boys, and how to get boys interested in reading. For younger boys, using animals is a good way to introduce new, or possibly reluctant readers, into the world of books. Congruent to Allen-Stevenson’s holistic method, shared how colors and illustrations were used to tell a story and help students relate to a story’s premise. This session was filled with laughter, joy, and lots of team building.
“Be the Change! Taking Empathy from a Soft Skill to a CORE skill!” was a workshop offered by Spanish Teachers Samara Spielberg and Camilla Iturralde. Teachers were taken through the four-step process of creating top-down mini-units that scaffold skills while engaging with relevant content. To begin, they explained that animated films and children’s books are used to analyze human behavior. In the second phase, pop music and skits are used to develop the ability to view the world through different perspectives. The introspective third phase takes these newly developed skills on perspective and asks students to internalize them by getting more personal, utilizing role-playing and personal story writing. The final phase allows students to practice the skills of empathy by reaching back outward to the greater school community.
The afternoon of PCT was a great success, and with six more sessions this school year there will be plenty of learning opportunities ahead, such as a movement- based restorative class, a Development workshop, a discussion around gender inclusivity and using Newsela as a teaching tool to name just a few.