Learners, By Kelley King, Head of Lower School
All schools should be places where both the students and the adults learn. When teachers and administrators regularly engage in learning to increase their knowledge and skills, they create a culture of continuous improvement and perform at a higher level. We are serious about professional development for our educators here at SDJA.
Of course, good teaching is not an accident. It is the result of study, reflection, practice and hard work. According to “Why Professional Development Matters” (Mizell 2010):
A teacher can never know enough about how a student learns, what impedes the student’s learning, and how the teacher’s instruction can increase the student’s learning. Professional development is the only means for teachers to gain such knowledge. Whether students are high, low, or average achievers, they will learn more if their teachers regularly engage in high-quality professional development.
School leaders too improve with study, reflection, practice, and hard work. Their learning supports not only teachers’ learning, but students’ as well. When leaders know how to engage teachers, support staff, and students in effective learning, the school becomes the center of learning for all adults and students.
At SDJA, we have many professional learning opportunities happening this year for our faculty and administrators:
- On January 23rd, K-8 teachers participated in an on-campus workshop on “Student Management, Motivation and Involvement” which helped us to create clear classroom procedures and higher student engagement.
- This week, Chaim, Anthony, Mike Quigley and I are attending the National Association of Independent Schools conference in Boston, MA.
- On February 28th, six GMLS teachers will be attending the California Association for the Gifted annual conference in Palm Springs.
- On March 9th, the entire faculty and administration will be attending the San Diego Independent and Private School annual conference. SDJA faculty members will be presenting 17 of the sessions – the most presentations made by any school!
- On March 19th, two GMLS teachers will present workshops at the annual CUE conference, which focuses on the latest innovations for using technology to enhance student achievement.
- On March 23rd and 24th, one of the best literacy experts I know is coming to SDJA to build the expertise of the GMLS teachers in reading and writing curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
- High school teachers attend the Advanced Placement conference each summer to constantly improve the quality and rigor of the MUS AP courses.
- Teachers of grades 7-12 Hebrew students receive ongoing NETA training through Hebrew University.
- High school teachers are receiving professional development through the Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education in teaching engineering, programming, and advanced technology.
- A cadre of GMLS and MUS teachers and administrators is traveling to Israel in June to develop collaborative lesson plans with Shar Hanegev School and to deepen our knowledge of and connection to Israel.
- The preschool staff has attended several of the offerings by National Association for the Education of Young Children, including their annual conference and regional conferences.
- Preschool staff members have also attended many local lectures on the topics of children’s mental health, positive discipline, current teaching strategies and best evidence-based practice in the field of early childhood education.
Believe it or not, but this is only a partial sampling of the professional learning that is happening at SDJA and does not include all of the professional learning that individual teachers are pursuing on their own. Further, our teachers are not only learners but, in many cases, they are the leaders in professional development as they present workshops to educators both regionally and nationally.
I’m proud of the SDJA faculty and their commitment to continuous improvement!
Kelley King, Head of Lower School