Bedford Public Schools values collaborative learning among its faculty as key to our model of continuous improvement. The most important of these opportunities are our full professional development days, one each in November, January, and March. What follows is a brief description of our work in each building on January 12th.
Davis: Teachers at Davis spent most of their day working on various aspects of reading instruction facilitated by ELA Curriculum Director Andrea Salipante, centered on their shared reading of Katie Cunningham’s Story: Still the Heart of Literacy Learning. They began with completing their own reading interest inventory, the principle being that one needs to understand herself as a reader in order to support students in their reading journey. They moved from there through different methods for identifying the reading interests of their students as well as student attitudes toward reading, all with the aim of meeting students where they are in order to help them grow and develop as readers. Students need to see themselves as well as learn about others in the stories they read. The day culminated with teachers examining their own classroom libraries in light of the essentials of a high-quality classroom library.
Lane: Lane teachers also focused on literacy instruction in a workshop launched by Andrea Salipante, then facilitated by reading specialist Kate Berrien and teachers Megan Farrell, Peter Ferguson, and Amy Campbell. The goal of the day was to help teachers understand more deeply how the Readers Workshop plays out within the classroom day-to-day. The teacher leaders shared videos of their own work with students and answered questions about how to help students set goals and develop effective reading habits by reading “just right” books for their level. In this way, as Kate pointed out “weaker readers can be stronger thinkers” because they have some choice over what they read, and they are reading at their level. Teachers also worked on conferring with students, one of the most powerful tools in helping readers to develop. The day culminated with time for teachers to work in consultation with facilitators on their own current classroom situations and practices.
JGMS professional development included an engaging speaker/expert on Mindfulness during the morning session, and then, in the afternoon, the teachers were highly energized by the “treasure hunt” activity focused on literacy and different learning styles. This activity is similar to one high school teachers engaged in last fall, so all 6-12 teachers now share the experience of highly engaging yet challenging problem solving in cooperative groups.
BHS faculty focused on student behaviors impacted by emotional challenges. As Heather Gallante observed in her Friday memo to faculty, “While we have committed to focusing on literacy as a district this year, it must be noted that literacy can cover a number of areas. As part of an end of year survey, many faculty members expressed an interest in learning more about managing challenging students in an effort to help those students find academic and personal success. We have looked at literacy through our academic lens. Now we are going to shift and cover social/emotional literacy as it pertains to our 'hard to reach' students."
Their guest speaker, Catherine Conway, presented the Concept of the Crucial Cs, through which "educators can develop short-term intervention strategies and long-term prevention strategies that focus on helping students meet their needs in positive ways and...build mutually respectful relationships between teachers and students." Students need to Connect, feel Capable, Count, and feel Courageous. Often misbehavior is an attempt by a student trying to meet one of these needs. Teachers who can recognize what need a student is trying to meet can help that student meet the need in a more positive way.
Ed Camp Coming in March
Our instructional and technology coaches have been working for weeks under the leadership of Donna Clements with input from the district leadership team to design our first-ever K-12 EdCamp experience in March. The idea of an EdCamp is that teachers offer workshops to other teachers. This approach to professional development began at the high school several years ago, moved into the middle school, and began last year at Davis and Lane. The experience has been so successful for participants and presenters alike, and this year teachers have suggested we try a K-12 experience. We are all excited about this day, and we'll be sure to share the details with you.