As students settle into a rhythm within their academic classes, our hope is they become increasingly willing to take risks, to speak out, pursue a line of thinking, and embrace failure as a step in the right direction. This desired academic vulnerability take times to emerge as its foundation rests in a mutual trust among students and teacher, but as we approach the mid-point in the Fall Term, we look to the collaborative work being done within our English and Social Science departments as an example of what risk taking should look like in the classroom.
The start of each academic term affords the opportunity for faculty to gather for designated in-service professional development. Past professional development days have welcomed guest speakers to campus, while other days rely on internal expertise to share innovative teaching practices and project based learning. Today, faculty gathered in academic departments to further refine our approach to fulfilling our mission as a school.
The notion of project based learning was the catalyst for Proctor’s revitalization in the early 1970's when newly appointed Head of School David Fowler, Assistant Head of School Chris Norris, and many others drove the school in a new and exciting direction. For the past forty years, Proctor has led the educational world in experimenting with student-centered, project-based learning, and has developed rich school culture that intuitively embraces the core principals of student-centered learning. We understand, however, that we must never become complacent with our teaching practices, and must continue to identify new and exciting ways to bring real world problem solving into the daily life of of our students. In order to do this, we must spend intentional time BEING students.
Proctor welcomed Dr. Derrick Gay to campus Tuesday to help us explore the double-edged sword of diversity at independent schools. Through interactive conversations, faculty investigated the challenges around diversity efforts at Proctor, including how we understand our own identities, the power of the words we use on a regular basis within the cultural context of our varied student experiences, and how to develop tangible strategies to better integrate diversity efforts into our educational mission.
During most professional development days, guest speakers come to campus and present new information for us, as teachers, to then bring back to our classrooms. Today, Proctor’s faculty took a bold step to rethink professional development by turning internally to our own faculty to share the work we are doing in our classrooms.
Professional development is one of the most important things we do as educators. Whether it is a attending a conference, taking courses, or sharing reflections on a recent book we've recently read, we must consistently take time to think intentionally about our craft. This process affirms what we are doing, while at the same time challenges us to grow. Today was a professional development day for faculty at Proctor, and we had an opportunity to do just that: affirm and then grow.