Faculty In-Service Strengthens Professional Community
August 31, 2023
The school year, in my mind, is a series of rituals that mark time: the first day of school, Mountain Day, Founders’ Day, graduation, to name a few. August teacher in-service is a ritual, too, designed to both mark and make time for socializing with colleagues, learning new skills, getting courses and classrooms ready, and making headway on school-wide priorities. That’s a tall order for three days! It takes careful thinking about how to balance these sometimes-competing needs.
Cultivating Strong Professional Community
At this year’s in-service, DEI coordinator Tony Strat-Cortez modeled and facilitated restorative circles with grade-level teams. Circles can be used in advisory and everyday classroom instruction to proactively build relationships, mitigate conflict, and help students get back on track quickly when conflict occurs. Engaging in circles ourselves was a rewarding way to connect and strengthen our own important adult relationships.
For our new faculty, Thetford Outdoor Program Coordinator Scott Ellis led a team-building session on our low-ropes course components and introduced the group to TA’s amazing outdoor resources. New teachers bonded over managing to traverse a “lava flow” and learning to balance on “Moby Deck.”
Getting to Know Students
Through a hilarious game of “knee-tag”, Student Assistance Provider Kara Toms led teachers to consider how students’ thoughts and feelings influence their behavior. Teachers this year will help many of our students move out of their academic and social comfort or panic zones, and into healthy stretch zones.
Additionally, I asked teachers to create a class profile for one of their classes this fall by collecting different kinds of student information, like interests outside of school, family cultures, and academic readiness, to name a few. The work will continue this fall with analysis, pattern recognition, and differentiated instruction design.
Through these activities (and more) – and with TA’s diverse and knowledgeable group of educators – the end-of-summer ritual of in-service felt meaningful, purposeful, and positive. What a great way to start the new school year.