Throughout the month of August, Inspired Teaching was busy leading back-to-school professional development for Ketcham Elementary School, McKinley Middle School, Hardy Middle School, and McKinley Technology High School in Washington, DC. Across sites, teachers grappled with challenging issues, including distinguishing between compliance and authentic engagement; going beyond competency, to build a love of learning; bringing student-led dialogue into the classroom; and ensuring equity and mutual respect are at the forefront of all instruction.
The series of workshops began with a thoughtful and committed group of Ketcham Elementary School teachers. Together, they learned strategies for adjusting their lesson plans and activities to better meet students' needs, explored restorative practices by engaging in role play exercises, and participated in engagement-based literacy activities, designed to spark enjoyment, as well as proficiency, in reading and writing. Teachers left the PD with plans to "focus on students doing all the heavy lifting" as far as learning and exploring, as well as plans to infuse what they had learned about student needs into their teaching this year.
The workshop with McKinley Middle School teachers focused on using data to create, differentiate, and adapt lessons that meet students' needs and build students' motivation from a basis of mutual respect. In one activity, teachers reflected on the many fascinating sides of middle school students, acknowledging that they can be "sassy," "stubborn," and "unpredictable," but also "curious," "driven," and "creative." Teachers remarked on how their views of their students grew noticeably more positive the more they reflected. Another activity reminded teachers how important it is to convey caring and respect throughout even the smallest interactions with students. As one teacher noted, "body language and facial expressions speak volumes to kids."
At Hardy Middle School, we focused on the art of facilitating high quality classroom discussions, and balancing rigor and joy in the classroom. The day began with teachers reflecting on the components of good conversations (both in and outside the classroom), and continued with specific activities designed to bring these components into their teaching practice. We look forward to hearing about the great conversations these teachers will lead with their students this year!
At McKinley Technology High School, we delved into engagement-based pedagogy, particularly as it relates to equity and identity. Teachers developed strategies to build relationships with all students, especially the ones who can be most challenging, grappled with how to effectively implement restorative practices, and developed empathy for students with different learning styles and preferences from their own.
Across workshops, teachers looked ahead to the new school year. Through Inspired Teaching's immersive activities, they reflected on their habits and practices from previous years, and considered changes they could make to engage their students even more in 2019-20. We wish all of our teacher participants and their students an exciting and productive year, and look forward to continuing to work together to support engagement-based teaching and learning!