Posted on February 20, 2012
It's a powerful model: teachers teaching teachers.
As MPI moves forward in its Kupu Hou initiative (stemming from Schools of the Future), we have spent considerable time, effort, and resources on professional development because teachers are central to implementing an effective educational program. Participating schools in the Schools of the Future initiative have been challenged to re-think the notion of educating children in the 21st century. This past Friday, nearly 140 MPI faculty from all grade levels and disciplines gathered in Bakken for an overview of the first two years of this initiative, which focused on research and planning. In the third year (currently), each of the school levels has embarked on significant actions that directly impact student learning here at MPI. Digital portfolios have become the medium for documenting learning in the preschool and elementary, with an emphasis on students reflecting on their own learning. The middle school faculty has been working on aligning curriculum, instructional practice, and assessment of learning. Learning in the Mid-Pacific Exploratory program (MPX) for interested high school freshmen and sophomores is largely project-based, and instructional periods have been organized in longer segments called a block schedule. Of particular interest during the morning of this professional development day were presentations by representatives at the elementary, middle, and high school levels: integrating classical literature and drama, particularly movement, to understand characterizations and themes (high school); approaching a text through different thinking strategies (middle school), and documenting student learning in electronic portfolios (elementary). And this was just the morning segment of the day!
As an entire school faculty, we viewed Sir Ken Robinson's speech on "Changing Education Paradigm," an animated version with graphics, followed by small group discussions across grade levels and content areas. If you've not yet seen this one, here it is -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=zDZFcDGpL4U
Education, as you and I may have experienced many years ago, does not teach the skills students need today. Compliancy, didactic delivery, dependency on standardized testing are some of the characteristics of the genetic imprint of education that are tough to change. As you can imagine, Robinson provoked a range of opinions about changing the education paradigm. In the afternoon, teachers attended sessions presented by their colleagues, from multiple sessions featuring technology to support learning to application of different instructional strategies for different purposes.
Kudos to the following preschool/elementary teachers who shared some aspect of their teaching with colleagues: Tiffany Byrne, Leslie Gleim, Lucy Sanders, Sarah Field, Cindy Hoddick, Jennifer Matsumoto, Pam Jenkins, Chris Bailie, and Bruce Black. That's nearly one-third of the preschool/elementary faculty. It's truly amazing to experience this level of professional development. The model of teachers teaching teachers is a powerful indicator of a shift in the education paradigm at Mid-Pacific. And our students are reaping the benefits of this change.
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey