Teachers Pursue Professional Development to Meet Pandemic Challenges

by Heidi Hojnicki, Director of Teaching and Learning

Despite the logistical limitations imposed by the current pandemic, our teachers’ vigorous efforts to enhance their professional growth and discover new ways to engage and excite our students have continued unabated.

Although teachers are no longer able to meet in person for workshops and group discussions, they’ve pivoted to address the challenges of both online learning and in-person classes requiring masks and social distancing. Teachers have acquired new skills, perspectives and technologies to help their students become effective, independent and passionate learners.

A Collaborative Venture

Because this is an exceptionally difficult time, connecting with one another is more important than ever. So this year our professional development efforts have focused on collaborative learning among teachers. By working together with their colleagues, teachers are modeling the collaborative learning they seek to nurture in our students.     

Thanks to the magic of Zoom technology, our teachers have continued to participate in full faculty meetings, peer presentations, remote workshops, support sessions and individual check-ins to make sure they’re encouraging and sustaining one another’s professional growth and well being.

New Resources and Strategies

Necessity has made us all innovators. Teachers share the latest technology applications, online educational resources and fresh strategies to deliver content, engage our students and help them take ownership of their own learning. 

By thinking critically about our curriculum, the ways classes can meet both synchronously and asynchronously, and how we can best meet the needs of all our students, our teachers have devised workarounds, improvisations and solutions that are creative and ingenious.

Sharing Innovative Ideas

During our recent professional development day in early January, teachers gathered on Zoom to discuss ways of implementing the school’s Strategic Vision into their classes. Several faculty members presented work they’re already doing that embraces elements of the Strategic Vision. While it was definitely more challenging to share the work of our colleagues through Zoom rather than in-person, these presentations offered us all not only creative inspiration but also a wonderful moment of connection.

The presentations and the values of the school’s 2020 Strategic Vision they exemplified were:

• Choreographer Showcase with creative arts teacher Kyle Reynolds addressed: 

  • partnering with people and institutions in the Greater Hartford area 
  • engaging in real-world learning opportunities 
  • working toward equity goals  
  • Collaborative Math Problems with math teacher Chris Vicevich addressed: 
    • working toward equity goals 
    • developing compassionate collaborators 
    • developing ethical problem solvers  
  • Global Cities with history teachers David Baker and Scott Dunbar addressed: 
  • developing ethical problem solvers  
  • engaging in real-world learning opportunities
  • The KO Garden: Soil Composition and Composting with science teachers Tim Allerton, Lisa Bailey and Natalie Lynd addressed: 
    • developing compassionate collaborators 
    • engaging students in real-world learning opportunities
    • leading and serving in the wider community 
    • developing active citizens 
  • The Lunchroom Recipe Project with math teacher Megan Farrell addressed: 
    • developing compassionate collaborators 
    • engaging in real-world learning opportunities 
  • The Power of Water with history teacher Peter Burdge, science teacher Josh Garrison and English teacher Beth Repp addressed: 
    • engaging in interdisciplinary learning opportunities 
    • engaging students in real-world learning opportunities 
  • Witness Stones with history teachers Katie McCarthy and Tricia Watson addressed: 
    • partnering with people and institutions in the Greater Hartford area
    • developing ethical problem solvers  
    • engaging students in real-world learning opportunities 
    • working toward equity goals 
    • leading and serving in the wider community 
    • developing active citizens

Connecting With One Another

Collaborating equitably requires relationship building. As we adults form relationships across disciplines and departments on campus, we are modeling this transformative act of working together for our students, preparing them to enter the global community knowing how to create local community. KO adults and students alike are strong, resilient and resourceful in large part because we care about each other and connect with one another.

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