Friday, February 21, 2014

SKY Partnership Teachers Share Best Practices

There were times in my teaching career when I spent countless hours creating lessons that I thought were ingenious.  The lessons that resulted in at least 90% of my students demonstrating understanding meant to me that I pretty much nailed it on teaching that particular concept. 

However, there also were times when I felt like all of my energy was exhausted teaching a lesson that left my students looking at me with that “deer in the headlights” expression on their faces.  I had to ask, “Is designing lessons by myself best for my students?”  The answer: No.  Here’s why . . .

“If You Want To Go Fast, Go Alone. If You Want To Go Far, Go together.” – African Proverb

8th Grade Northbrook Middle School teacher,
 Crystal Nicholas shares an example of student
work with colleagues
This quote commonly used by The SKY Partnership, motivated Hasina McKend and Abigail Parker, Teacher Liaisons for Spring Branch and YES Prep Northbrook, respectively, to organize professional development sessions that would provide both Northbrook Middle and YES Prep Northbrook teachers the chance to collaborate with colleagues of the same grade level and content area.

“We have amazing people here with great ideas.  I can’t wait to work with our YES Prep counterparts!” commented a Northbrook teacher on a survey that followed the December professional development.  Teachers have continued to voice their desires for more time to collaborate and share ideas with colleagues. 

Last week, teachers from Northbrook Middle and YES Prep Northbrook were afforded that opportunity once again.  They were grouped by subject and grade level to engage in conversations related to best practices for topics like: cause and effect, using graphic organizers for writing essays, small group management and teaching strategies for map use. “Finally, the time to talk about our content with no other distractions . . .” responded a teacher on a recent survey. 

During the same professional development session, administrators from both organizations participated in a workshop that shared strategies for effective management.  In this session lead by Dustin Peterson, Director of Leadership Development at YES PREP Public Schools, school leaders were able to engage in role-playing activities to help determine areas of strengths and challenges in their management styles.

Providing quality time to share and model best practices now, is an investment that will ultimately lead to the growth and success of all students.

Take a look at this video to see the collaboration between Northbrook Middle and YES Prep Northbrook teachers and administrators.

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