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Professional Development Key to Teachers

Professional Development Key to Teachers
 
A recent study from the University of California, Irvine has reinforced what teachers have long known: quality professional development for instructors directly improves student academic outcomes.

St. Martin’s faculty has long believed in innovation and continuous improvement in their teaching methods. Each year, St. Martin’s invests in professional development, ensuring teachers stay abreast of advancements in their fields and the most effective teaching methods.

StM Holds Professional Development Day
On Friday, March 24, St. Martin’s teachers from all divisions spent the day focusing on professional development.

George Cottage teachers gathered in the Gibbs Family Center for Innovation + Design (Gibbs CID). Faculty member Anita Hamilton shared what she learned at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Annual Conference, and led the team through a "Loose Parts" project.

Following this meeting, Cottage faculty collaborated with teachers from St. George's, Ursuline, and St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Nursery to be trained in three crucial areas for early childhood professionals: recognizing and navigating difficult situations with parents and peers; guiding and defusing challenging behaviors in children; and managing time and responsibilities to achieve a better work/life balance. Teachers were able to complete more than half of the state-required continuing education credits while also making connections with colleagues in other programs.

Lower School faculty also started their day in the Gibbs CID. The faculty split into two groups. One group went into the build shop for a basic safety training class. The other group learned how to use the cameras and editing equipment to create audio and video recordings in the center’s production studio. In the afternoon, faculty had a series of meetings to discuss topics such as standardized testing, cross-curricular planning, and curriculum mapping.

Middle School welcomed Ann Harris from the Educational Records Bureau (ERB). Harris spent the morning with teachers discussing how to interpret CTP scores. The session helped teachers to better analyze students' scores, identify areas for improvement, and compare St. Martin’s curriculum to schools nationwide.

Later in the day teachers had time to work within their departments, receive training in the Gibbs CID, share "best practices" with each other, and look at the scope and sequence of the curriculum.

The Upper School began the day with a faculty meeting. Topics included: 3rd quarter update, international students, honor council, preparation for the 2017-18 school year, scheduling, metrics of academic success, growth/evaluation model, service day, and handbook revisions.
 
Upper School faculty also attended departmental meetings which included professional development activities. The history, science, and English departments visited the Gibbs CID to explore ways in which the facility can aid the teaching and learning in each discipline. The math department engaged in an exploration of the department’s philosophy as it pertains to student-centered pedagogy, at times dissecting sample lessons. Likewise, the foreign language department gathered to analyze the different pedagogies relevant to the teaching of each language offered at St. Martin’s. Each teacher presented sample lessons to colleagues in an effort to develop their craft, as well as gain a sense of empathy for students. After lunch, the departmental chairs met with Dr. Weatherill. Topics discussed included the AP program at St. Martin and developing a new evaluation system.

The highlight of the day was found in a breakout room in the Gibbs CID. Teachers from all levels had a chance to experience the ZSpace: Virtual Reality Learning Experience. The reactions to this amazing technology were truly priceless. St. Martin’s is exploring the system to determine whether it would be helpful for teaching.

EdTech Summit Teaches Uses for Google for Education
Earlier this year, several St. Martin’s faculty members participated in the 2nd Annual EdTechTeam New Orleans Summit Featuring Google for Education.
Each division of the school was represented: one George Cottage teacher, three Lower School teachers, six Middle School teachers, and one Upper School teacher attended the conference. Attendees benefitted from two days of motivating keynote speakers, hands-on breakout sessions, and other activities including a high-energy demo slam.
Teachers were able to choose from informational sessions about all the Apps in the G Suite for Education (Drive, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drawings, YouTube, Classroom, Maps and more) as well as sessions that explored best practices in educational technology and great teaching. They were also able to hear from spotlight and general speakers, most of whom are Google Certified Teachers, Google Education Trainers, and Google Innovators. Topics covered included Project Based Learning (PBL), Digital Literacy, STEM, Math, Digital Citizenship, Assistive Technology, and more.

“I am grateful that St. Martin’s gave me the opportunity to attend the summit,” said Middle School Spanish teacher Annabelle Allen. “The information I learned was invaluable. I was inundated with new ideas and information that I found incredibly beneficial. I have already implemented Pear Deck and many extensions in my classroom every day. I am also using Google Forms now for quizzes.”
While learning new programs and software was helpful, teachers particularly enjoyed the personal relationships that were formed.
“It was nice connecting with other people and getting inspired by the things other people are doing,” said Technology Coordinator Gary Innerarity.
Technology Director James Huval agreed. “The networking opportunities outside the event led to many good connections and exchanges of knowledge, which were just as valuable as the conference itself.”
Teachers have begun implementing things learned at the conference. Middle School English teacher Keith Schwarz has used Pear Deck in his sixth grade class. It allows students to contribute answers and evaluate each other’s work.
While faculty benefit from local and national conferences, day-to-day knowledge sharing can be helpful as well. Faculty and staff have begun sharing ideas and best practices in a weekly campus Tech Talk, hosted by the technology department. Innerarity says it's a great way for faculty and staff to connect, share ideas, and inspire each other over the lunch break.
“I hope to keep the momentum moving forward and to inspire others to incorporate these technologies,” said Innerarity. “The biggest concern from the faculty appears to be professional development. Most of them want to utilize the technological tools given to them, but need the training to do so in an efficient manner.”
 
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