Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Teach 180: Grow or Stagnate (Day 170)

Beginning in the fall, I will be teaching at Kent Place School in Summit, New Jersey and I spent a good portion of my day continuing to pack and organize.  The last day of school will be here soon!  My school day ended with an "exit interview" conversation with the Headmaster, reflecting on what Moravian Academy does well and where Moravian Academy could improve.  As I reflected on my twelve years of teaching at Moravian Academy, I realized that I grew as a teacher as a result of my desire to learn and continue to improve.  It was not because of anything the school, administration or Board of Trustees did.  The systems for faculty growth were missing when I started at MA and sadly, they are still absent now. 

During my tenure at MA, I renewed my National Board Certification and helped three other teachers at Moravian (and a few at other schools) obtain their National Board Certificates. (The teachers taught middle school math, PE and Spanish.)  I lead workshops on Desmos, Smartboard, plickers, Google Hangouts, flipping the classroom and twitter.  Last year I visited the classroom of about a dozen teachers, many outside my department, to provide feedback to the teachers and consider how I might incorporate their teaching strategies in my own classroom.  I tried to lead a group called "Faculty Fellows" where teachers would get together to discuss teaching strategies or articles we had read.  When that failed (teachers did not want to give up their lunch time nor did they have time meet outside the school day), I tried to start a virtual book group on the book "Grade Smarter, Not Harder".  Although twenty signed up for the group, only two have participated sporadically.  I continued to grow and lead despite being in an environment that does not invest in growth.

I am sure I will continue to lead in some capacity at my new school.  However, I want to - no, need to - be surrounded by like-minded teachers who want to risk, share, and learn from each other daily.  I hope that Kent Place School is a place where faculty professional growth is the norm and not the exception.  I hope it is a school where faculty evaluation is primarily seen as an opportunity for professional growth, instead of a way to remove ineffective teachers.  I need to be a part of an organization that values people as resources and invests in their continued journey to becoming better teachers, because I am not done learning or growing yet.

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