Skip to main content

A New Model for Professional Development


Six years ago, the school initiated a new professional development program that goes beyond attendance at conferences or workshops. As an intricate component of the faculty-led Curriculum Initiative, this new professional development approach is ongoing, entails long-term relationships with experts, promotes and encourages mentorship, and is intricately linked to supervision and evaluation.

Teachers are in the Change Business
 
Teachers prepare the next generation; they build on the knowledge and research of past generations as they take boys into new worlds of knowledge. We are discovering so much about how people learn; it’s our responsibility to stay on top of the research. As teachers, our principal responsibility is to help boys learn and grow. If we are responsible for effecting change, we also have to stay fresh, to grow and change ourselves. So, at the heart of exceptional teaching is exceptional professional growth and development.

There are Two Levels of Professional Development at Saint David’s
 
The first level involves personal growth as a teacher: the quantity of knowledge and quality of skill, instruction, delivery, pacing, understanding of content, and the personal investment of a teacher in the
profession. In support of this, our teachers have the opportunity to learn from leading educational experts over a period of time. For example, the faculty has worked with Teach Like a Champion author Doug Lemov on teaching strategies and techniques, and Harvard University’s Project Zero on the implementation of Teaching for Understanding—a pedagogical framework that helps us critically evaluate our curriculum. We have also been working closely for extended periods of time, with long-term reading and math consultants to streamline these important components of our program. The outside professionals have helped us to critically and objectively evaluate our program, and develop close working relationships with our faculty.

The second level of professional development deepens the efficacy of the teacher within the context of the mission of our school. It is vital for a Saint David’s teacher to possess a deep understanding of our mission and pedagogy as it relates to our particular school. The Dean of Faculty is charged with expressly guiding the growth and development of every teacher, both in the individual and collective sense as it relates to our mission.


To help teachers achieve success, we’ve instituted a mentoring program. During a teacher’s first three years at Saint David’s, he or she is assigned a master teacher who acts as mentor to help foster professional growth within the culture of the school.

Teachers at Saint David’s are empowered to drive their professional development: they apply for grants to develop programs and explore areas of interest which will bring an added dimension to
their subject area. For example, the language arts teachers recently developed a comprehensive writing program, which involved professional development and changes to the curriculum to balance
expository and creative writing, as well as instruction with guided practice and writing opportunities. In addition, a new Summer Spain Study Tour will be offered to current seventh graders thanks to a faculty development grant, and the Kindergarten teachers implemented a math program on patterns, based on the TfU framework.

Supervision and Evaluation are Rooted in Professional Development
 
Independent school teachers are particularly empowered because they can design their own curriculum, a key difference between independent and public schools. With this freedom, however comes added responsibility and accountability.

Saint David’s believes that supervision and evaluation are rooted in professional development; we have completely redesigned the supervision and evaluation process with this in mind. Rather than
being based on traditional annual reviews, Saint David’s new model builds “milestone years” into the process at five-year intervals. Faculty receive comprehensive, critical feedback about their work during these milestone years. The salary structure has also been significantly adjusted to recognize successful attainment of these milestones. In effect, the individual teacher and the school collectively are asked to reflect critically and deeply on the teacher ’s growth as a professional.

This process is transparent, with professional criteria for success and the corresponding salary explicitly stated. It encourages growth.  Most important, it supports our exceptional teachers’ efforts to ensure that our boys meet the goals of our mission and fulfill the aspirations of our founders "… that they be good men.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

An Evening With Lidia Bastianich

On Tuesday evening, Lidia Bastianich, award-winning chef, restaurateur, television host and author, visited Saint David's to speak to the Saint David's Alumni Parent community and current Eighth Grade.



Interviewed by Alumni Parent Dr. Joseph Haddad for our Alumni Parent Council Lecture, Lidia recounted her youth in Istria when the once Italian peninsula shifted to communist reign after World War II, her two years spent as a refugee in Trieste, and her experiences after her family immigrated to America when she was eleven years old.


The boys were fascinated with her discussion about her family's escape from Istria and her life as a refugee and immigrant. She expressed her everlasting gratitude to the people who provided assistance to her family in Trieste and when they first arrived in New York. "I can't talk enough about the goodness of the people who helped us," she said. "I am where I am because of them."

As a highly successful person with…

Navy SEAL Bill Berrien '82 Gives Chapel on Service to Saint David's Boys

Former Navy SEAL and Saint David's Alumnus Bill Berrien '82 fascinated all during his Chapel Talk Tuesday morning to our seventh and eighth graders.

A SEAL for nine years, Bill was a member of two platoons in South America as well as part of a Joint Special Operations unit. He shared his SEAL Trident with the boys, talked about the intensity of training, and noted he remains close to many with whom he served.


Connecting his service to the values that Saint David's espouses, he encouraged the boys to always be students--curious throughout their lives, to find the best in everyone, appreciate setbacks, and to learn from failures. In the video above, he addresses the first.

He closed by planting these "seeds" for our boys to consider: that life is a journey to be embraced broadly with openness to a variety of opportunities; being a service leader is of utmost importance; the unknown should be embraced; and, finally, that the boys be their own best friend, compassi…

Saint David's Father and Son Dinner Featuring Mark Whitaker

Our annual Seventh Grade father and son dinner provides the opportunity for seventh graders and their fathers to share an evening exploring what it means to be a good man, the relationship between parent and son, and other mission-related themes.

The speaker at this year's event was author, journalist and media executive Mark Whitaker, who spoke about his memoir My Long Trip Home, in which he delves into the story of his family, in particular, his father. The son of a bi-racial couple who wed in 1956 (a time when interracial marriages were still illegal in some states), Mark spent many years estranged from his father, a brilliant African Studies scholar who struggled throughout his life with alcoholism.


Later, they would reconcile, but it was only after his father had passed away that Mark realized he wanted to write a book about this man who had had a groundbreaking career despite all his problems, and try to understand him better. Ultimately, the process deepened Mark'…