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Positive Returns on Professional Development
Martha Newson, Dean of Studies
June 03, 2015
I have only been at Oak Hill 11 months, yet I already realize that I have the BEST job on the planet! Why? Because I work with the BEST faculty on the planet, of course. Caring, passionate and enthusiastic are just a few words to describe them.
But perhaps the best two words would be lifelong learners. Wait, you may be thinking, teachers are the ones who are doing the teaching, not the learning, right? Well, maybe at other schools, but at Oak Hill School, we know the best teachers are those who are always eager to keep learning best practices. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s visit some classrooms, so you can see for yourself…
Let’s start by joining morning meeting time in Kindergarten. As students greet each other politely and read the morning message together, you will recognize that you are in a Responsive Classroom. Of course, you could visit any classroom or advisory throughout our school, and you would quickly realize all of our teachers have been trained in the Responsive Classroom philosophy and structure.
Don’t be late for your first class … it is time for the literacy block! Stop into a first- or second-grade classroom during Word Study time, and you will see teachers who received professional development from Vanderbilt University professor Kathy Ganske, author of Word Journeys. Or perhaps you would rather visit a third- through sixth-grade classroom during Reading and Writing Workshop. You will be quickly engaged during a mini-lesson presented by teachers who have been trained by the leading literacy experts in the country at Teachers College in New York City.
But please don’t think that the positive returns of professional development stop once the literacy block ends. Join Lynn Jones’ sixth-grade math class. Lynn just returned, with five other math teachers, from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference. I was able to join Lynn at this conference, and watching her excitement when choosing from the multitude of sessions offered at this conference, still makes me smile. There is no doubt she has already incorporated new strategies learned within her classroom.
But professional development doesn’t stop with our core academics. Absolutely not! Just join Susie Elder’s or Sarah Schuyler’s art classes and you will see new techniques they learned at the National Art Education Association conference. Ready for some physical activity? Join a PE class led by coaches who get re-energized during the summer by attending the National Physical Education Institute. Or perhaps the performing arts are more your niche … our music, band and drama teachers attend state, regional and/or national workshops each year.
Need I continue the tour for you to see the positive returns on professional development? Every penny spent on PD gets paid back ten-fold in the classroom when new and improved practices are put into place. Our teachers are so committed to continual improvement that there are twelve professional development trips to conferences and workshops planned for this summer alone. That’s right, 12!
Yes, I absolutely have the BEST job on the planet working with the BEST faculty on the planet. Just don’t try to find us this summer … we will be too busy learning new strategies to implement this fall!