I imagine that many of you wonder why we didn’t have school on Friday. What exactly do we do during these days marked as “Professional Development” on the school calendar? And what on earth could be so important that we make parents find child care on a weekday? I’m glad you asked because this Friday’s activities are worth sharing.Friday was Assets School’s 5th Annual Teachers Teaching Teachers Conference (also called T3 Day). It’s a day where we hold our own internal teaching and learning conference. Our full K-12 faculty served as both the presenters and audience. It also happens to be one of the coolest, most impressive professional development opportunities I’ve seen a school engaged in.
We started the day with multiple micro-sessions. These were 20-minute sessions where teachers present a lesson or unit, a curricular material, online resource, pedagogical approach, or any other show-and-tell-type share that they think others might find helpful or interesting. For example, this year we had teachers share on their class’s organization system, integrating grammar into the curriculum, morning meeting activities for different days of the week, integrating art into social studies, a photo essay project, using origami to teach geometry, morphology games, resources from an outdoor education conference, building 3D model environments and stop motion movies, and how to pick, prepare, use, and replant the Ti leaf plant. All faculty members presented something so these are just a few samples of the many options that we had to choose from.
As you can see, some of the sessions were related to learning differences and some had much broader education application. In fact, I think the sessions are a good reflection of an Assets education. Topics included a focus on both students’ intellectual and emotional lives. We see topics from a wide range of disciplines, often focused on integration. We see a focus on differentiation and how we can individualize to a child’s needs. We also see an importance on hands-on, project-based, experiential learning.
In the afternoon, we moved to extended-sessions. These were an hour-long and allowed for more in-depth discussion. This year, we were lucky to have presentations on how to add more individualization to the classroom, mindfulness practices in education, how the iPad can support learning and executive functioning, the power of Google Calendar, facilitating conflict mediation with students, strategies for supporting literacy across the curriculum, and math tools beyond the graphic calculator.
We ended our day by coming back together and doing a group reflection exercise, talking about what we learned, what we’re still wrestling with and what we want to learn more about.
Noted educator John Dewey once wrote, “education…. is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.” This is true for our students, as for us as adults. We need to nourish our education so we can learn and grow as individuals and professionals. T3 Day allows us the time and space to do this by collaborating with colleagues across all grade levels and benefiting from the collective wisdom of our extraordinary faculty.
Please let your children know that even though we don’t have school, their teachers are still hard at work learning more about how they think, learn and feel. And, thank you parents for finding child care so we can engage in this important work together!