INT Instills Love of Learning
By: Holly Chesser
Published August 2012
This summer, 67 independent school educators embarked on a lifetime of learning by participating in one of SAIS’s Institutes for New Teachers. This three-day workshop, facilitated by master teachers from member schools, engages participants in lesson planning, exploration of best practices, assessments, school culture, classroom management, child and adolescent development, 21st century expectations, and understanding the independent school parent. The highlight of the seminar is the creation and presentation of lessons that are videotaped and replayed so that the individual can celebrate excellence and identify opportunities for improvement, while incorporating the content of the sessions into developing better teaching habits.
The participants came from seven different states and 27 different schools. Half already hold an advanced degree, including five with doctorates. While 60% have two years or less of teaching experience, another 25% have 3-5 years under their belts, and 15% have six or more years of experience, ranging from public to independent schools to the college level. The average number of years of experience was 3 and the median 2, but the total was 196 years. In the coming year, 40% will be teaching in upper grades, 30% in middle, and 30% in lower. Courses they will teach this include Digital Media, PE, Ethics, 4th Grade Social Studies, Theatre, English, Physics, Exploring Business Technology, Robotics, Biology, Algebra II, Zoology, Calculus, Language Arts, Psychology of Leadership, Moral Theology, Kindergarten, and Ancient Medieval History – to name just a few!
Participants found the workshops stimulating and engaging, commenting, “I came away with not only new knowledge, but new confidence in and new appreciation of the role and value of the independent school in a student’s life.” Another remarked, “To say that the videotaping was useful is a gross understatement. I think I’ll be much more patient and deliberate in front of a live class now, having seen myself teach and having had so much helpful and objective feedback.”
Independent schools hope to ignite a lifelong love of learning. Encouraging and supporting teachers to pursue professional growth allows them to model the same intellectual curiosity they hope to engender in students. But, it is tricky to mandate a “love of learning.” Consider this: a compliance model that requires a fixed number of hours of annual professional development likely focuses more on accountability than on growth. When schools celebrate a teacher’s pursuit of excellence, the faculty view professional development as something to be embraced rather than to be endured. How are you creating your own community of learners? The master teacher facilitators in this SAIS institute also provide resources to help schools support and nurture newer faculty members in their lifelong professional growth.
The 67 participants in this summer’s Institutes for New Teachers join thousands of previous participants as they take the first steps in a lifetime of professional development. Since Doug Jennings and Ned Fox began the program in the early 1980’s, SAIS has been privileged to provide this professional development resource and looks forward to working with many more faculty members who are committed to their own growth and learning journey.
Video: Doug Jennings talks about the early years of the program.