Last week, Turning Point teachers and staff were fortunate to enjoy a valuable day of professional growth as we set aside time to explore best practices in preschool-8 education. As an independent school, we firmly believe that teachers remain relevant only when they continue learning, and this year’s workshops and roundtables focused on themes we have identified as being important for student learning, well-being, and motivation.
Of course, teachers grow professionally by working with students each day. Additionally, we provide many opportunities for faculty to attend workshops and conferences that inspire them to infuse their teaching with new ideas and best practices. But no one understands the challenges a teacher faces more than other teachers, which is why we devote our January Professional Development Day to teacher-led workshops.
When teachers learn from each other, their collaborations provide innovative ideas and insights that ultimately benefit our students. Teachers who lead the presentations reflect on what is working in their classrooms and articulate these experiences clearly to peers; teachers in the audience are challenged to think about how they can incorporate new approaches into their practice and can feel excited about taking risks to reach our students. And the innovation doesn’t stop when the workshops conclude; our teachers are there to support each other through the implementation of new practices throughout the school year.
It is no surprise that teachers report this day as among the most valuable growth opportunities they receive. Each year I am surprised and delighted by how much I learn from and am inspired by my colleagues, and this year’s workshops and round tables were no exception. Sessions included:
- Helping Our Students Develop Executive Functioning Skills
- Anchoring Curriculum with Essential Questions
- Restorative Conversations
- Creative Drama in the Classroom
- Writer’s Workshop: Best Practices
- Integrating the Garden into Class Curriculum
- Intrinsic Motivation
- Mindfulness Practice and Discussion
Workshops were balanced between curricula (Writer’s Workshop; garden curriculum; drama techniques, essential questions), and inter/intrapersonal skills (executive functioning; restorative conversations; intrinsic motivation; mindfulness). Teachers had opportunities to explore, in both large and smaller groups, how they might evolve their pedagogy in ways that create deep meaning for students while respecting and leveraging differences of all kinds.
As educators, the most effective lessons we teach invite students to make and honor personal connections – to the teacher, to each other and, ultimately, to larger humankind. Friday’s impressive workshops provided an opportunity for us all to engage in profound discourse and immersion, allowing us to think together about how our classrooms can continue to serve as incubators of human potential.
Head of School