Highlights from PAIS Workshops
Beth Glascott attended the workshop Demystifying Data. The Milton Hershey School initiated a new approach to using achievement and growth data to improve student learning. Focus was placed on ability to understand and communicate the data with confidence, resulting in teachers and administrators using data to make instructional decisions. In addition, the approach facilitates the development of a robust program evaluation process.
Marianne Master attended a session called Creating a Culture of Learning which was about encouraging and supporting professional development in schools through a focus on the patterns of adult learning. Francis Yasharian, a student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education (and former Lower School Head at SCH), facilitated the workshop. He discussed the importance of focusing on Community, Content, Craft and Core when considering the professional development of teachers. He explained the different stages of adult growth and how they can contribute to professional development that is not only informational but transformational. He also described the components that facilitate what he calls “learning that lasts:” narrative, meaning, community and safety.
Orit Netter attended Professor Lafferty: "Teach More Kids that Reading is Fun." In this workshop, the presenter (a reading specialist) shared an anecdote about an old student (Sean Lafferty) who was a struggling and reluctant reader and who the presenter was successfully able to turn into an avid and passionate reader. Around this same time, the boy was nicknamed "Professor Lafferty," and he implored the presenter to "teach more kids that reading is fun." This stuck with her and has driven her teaching practice ever since. A few suggestions she shared were:
- Ensure that there is a wide variety of books in the classroom, even those that are not necessarily "high quality" literature but are appealing to kids.
- Make reading a social event--allow kids to read together and talk about books together as often as possible.
- Have lunchtime book clubs (not in the traditional way)--read books to kids as they are eating (and books of their choosing).
- Stay away from reading logs--they will no doubt take the joy out of any reading experience. Instead, have kids talk about their books with one another.
- Establish a "favorite books" bin or display in the classroom.
Linda O'Malley attended a Digital Storytelling workshop that was co-taught by a librarian and a classroom teacher. They modeled several different online sites that allow students to create stories through various formats including comic strips, storyboards, short videos and online books. She came away from the workshop with some plans to integrate some of these new web 2.0 tools into the library curriculum. Linda thinks the students will enjoy creating book talks using comic strips, and she hopes to use one of the online book sites to let the students write their own book.
Pam Shannon reports that the most interesting and informative of the presentations that she attended was Understanding Precursors to Violence in Independent Schools. The head of security at Episcopal, along with their counselors, gave national statistics for the last ten years for school violence that were very revealing. They stressed school safety audits that deal with the physical security of a campus, the communications systems and understanding your strengths and vulnerabilities as a school. Policy and procedures with appropriate boundaries that all school constituencies understand, along with identifying potential risks in advance were suggestions for the 30 or so educators who attended this presentation.