Posted on October 8, 2012
At the recent Professional Development Day, all faculty converged for a full day, which began with self-reflection on tracing the "stepping stones" that have led to their decisions to become teachers, then group-reflection and discussion on uncovering the essence of our collective identity as Mid-Pacific Institute faculty. After all, in the words of philosopher-teacher Parker Palmer, "we teach who we are." High school English teacher John Chance, pictured here, set the introspective tone for the morning by sharing his "stepping stones" framed in "racial singularity" and riveting examples of teaching in an inner city high school. He encouraged colleagues to step back from the busy-ness of the school day -- department meetings, curriculum planning, written reports, student challenges with academic or social behaviors, etc. -- and view Mid-Pacific from his perspective as a utopia of diversity at all levels, and that these differences are precisely what make us a community of learners. What constantly centers us are our values about education and our aspirations for each student.
An integral part of the day was schoolwide discussion about iPad implementation in our classrooms, K-12. What's working well for students and teachers? What new learning were we discovering? What surprised us about the use of iPads as a tool for learning? What challenges have we been encountering? Teachers' responses to these questions will contribute to our data collection on iPad usage for instructional purposes. I happened to sit in on one group discussion, and the ten faculty members, representing all grade levels, voiced relative ease about iPad implementation in the classroom. Students are taking to the tablets as "digital natives," unafraid to test new apps or to find appropriate electronic means for solving problems or communicating understanding. They know how to find answers with the click of a key and are quite sophisticated in their manipulation of information.
However, there still remains the challenge of teaching students how to evaluate information, to determine its authenticity and accuracy, to analyze stance and perspective, and to synthesize information in order to develop a position. Teaching these critical skills would ring true for any traditional mode of communication (textbooks, articles, video, etc.), but using an iPad increases the exponential immediacy and breadth of information. If this group discussion I overheard is representative of teachers schoolwide, I would venture to speculate that all teachers are incorporating iPads in their instruction and encouraging daily iPad usage in relevant and appropriate ways. We are yet at our infancy with iPad implementation, so there is much more to be discovered, I'm sure.
Finally, the women in this photo are some of the preschool and elementary faculty who attended Mid-Pacific's 10th annual Moon Over Manoa dinner and silent auction to raise funds for special capital and educational projects. It was, by far, the most successful event in terms of attendance, presentation, and program. From the hula and theatre performances to the moving musical duet of high school math teacher Christine Kawashibara and kumu hula Lanakila Casupang to the emcee finesse of radio personality Billy V., the event highlighted our greatest assets as a school -- our students and faculty. MPI is a community of which I am honored to be associated.
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey