Professional Development

Julie Schlossinger, Head of Lower School
A friend who publishes an oncology journal recently shared with me that they had just returned from hosting a group of doctors in Kiawah, SC for a few days for some professional development and golf. It was very strange and a little funny to hear the term “professional development” used in a context not pertaining to teachers. Of course, I know that those in the medical field participate in ongoing training and education, so I wondered why that comment about professional development (PD) for folks outside of the educational landscape landed on me as it did.
Ironically, the following Friday was Renbrook’s first PD Day for teachers. As the week unfolded, and I communicated back and forth with a rep at the Bureau of Education & Research making sure everything was set for the seminar, Differentiating Instruction in the Classroom, I started thinking a lot about the professional development events I’ve participated in through the years. Needless to say, everything went off without a hitch on Friday, and I’m happy to report some teachers have already implemented several strategies this week!
I’m still not entirely sure why I had that reaction about the PD for the oncologists. Maybe because in the twenty-six years of PD events I’ve attended, I was never “treated” to an event on a beautiful island that also involved golf. I can’t even imagine!

PD for teachers is absolutely critical. There is so much information teachers need to learn regarding the brain, how to support children’s social and emotional development, and how to execute instruction that meets the needs of multiple different learners in the same class at the same time. Teaching well is a complex task involving knowledge of brain science, psychology, and child development. One needs to also have content knowledge, strong executive functioning, tech and writing skills, as well as high emotional competence.

As an educator, I not only believe I should live and breathe the notion of being a life-long learner, but I also truly love learning. So many of my colleagues do as well. Our professional development is ongoing through more than degree programs or annual PD events. There are several amazing educational journals and magazines to read like NAIS’s Independent School Magazine and Independent TeacherThe Elementary School Journal, and Education Week. A few great blogs we love are Cult of PedagogyEdutopia, and Independent Ideas Blog. During the school year and summer months teachers also participate in book clubs. Some recent reads are Great Teaching by DesignThe Joyful Teacher, and Uncommon Sense Teaching: Practical Insights in Brain Science to Help Students Learn. Additionally, we get together every Monday afternoon throughout the school year for a Lower School faculty meeting where we discuss articles, learn about new teaching practices, and share insights and strategies.

Last Friday’s PD event focused on differentiation– the act of addressing the learning variances within heterogeneous classrooms. When students receive instruction targeted to their varied readiness levels and are also given choice, that maximizes opportunities for growth. And while I wasn’t able to fly the teachers to a PD event on a beautiful island that involved business and pleasure, we did enjoy a full day of learning together. I am proud to work with so many educators who are lifelong learners and who are dedicated to their professional growth and development.

Who needs to go to Kiawah Island anyway? A yellow smiley faceDescription automatically generated with medium confidence
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