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An Early Start: Mentee Round Table

This morning, before any boys arrived, the day for 17 Saint David's teachers began very early with a Mentee Round Table in the Smith Room.  It was the second session in a multi-session series of early morning meetings of all teachers new to Saint David's.  Begun three years ago as part of the Faculty Initiative, the mentorship program is one of the core components of our professional development program at Saint David's.  For their first three years at the school, each new teacher is assigned a mentor.  Together, the mentor and mentee observe each other, critique each other, and participate in sessions like this morning's coordinated by the Dean of Faculty.  The curriculum for these sessions and our mentorship program in general revolve in part around Doug Lemov's1 work in Teach Like A Champion.  The aim of our program at Saint David's is to keep it grounded in practical techniques and strategies that are immediately applicable in the classroom and that result in optimal learning for our boys.  This morning's topic was "Classroom Management" with a special focus on "tight transitions."  By keeping transitions tight we can increase instruction time and decrease time spent on lengthy, ill defined transitions in the classroom.

The principal aim of the Faculty Initiative is to attract and retain exceptional people.  Research shows that an important aspect of any initiative with this aim corresponds directly with an institution's commitment to providing continual high quality professional development opportunities.  We have also found that the keystone to a successful program lies in the school assuming more of the responsibility ourselves.  Instead of only sending teachers out to workshops, Saint David's has developed and continues to refine, an in-house professional development infrastructure.   In addition to the mentorship program and Round Tables like today's, and the new Supervision and Evaluation program, we also have guest "experts" currently working with and "coaching" teams of teachers--in mathematics, reading, and athletics, for example--over prolonged periods of time, refining their craft, instructional techniques, and teaching strategies.

Saint David's recognizes that the best and most successful teachers are never done learning their craft.  The session ended with a synthesis of "Five Habits of Highly Effective Teachers" by Neil Bright.

1. Doug spent a professional day with the faculty two years ago.

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