Faculty Professional Development - 2019-2020

September 18, 2019 by Maeve Ryan

(Updated May 5, 2020)

In her role as Educational Ambassador with WGBH, Karen Pleasant, SBS' History Department Chair and Co-Coordinator of the IB Program, was a guest educator on a national webinar called "Teaching about Women in World War II". She highlighted resources on PBS LearningMedia as well as tips on how to adapt them to distance learning. Through regular virtual meetings, Karen is working with the local Educator Ambassadors on the creation of a webinar specifically geared towards the Social Studies Standards in Massachusetts. She also recently attended a virtual conference with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and history teachers from all over the U.S. Additionally, Karen was part of an exciting project where she did a Teacher Spot recording of a promotional video for WORLD Channel and related social media. 

On Thursday, April 16, Language Department Chair Miriam Przybyla-Baum facilitated a video conference call on Teaching World Languages Virtually hosted by the National Coalition of Girls' Schools. The call brought together educators from across the US and Canada as well as the UK. Post conference, educators were encouraged to visit NCGS’s COVID-19 webpage, which serves as an evolving collection of helpful information and resources for educators at girls’ schools. During the conference call, Miriam covered the following 10 questions:

1. Has your use of L2 in lower level classes changed due to realities of videoconferencing? If so, in what ways?
2. How can we gauge comprehension of a new concept/verbal input in L2 if we can't depend on nonverbal cues such as facial expression and body language?
3. Where will our students be skills-wise at the end of this “year”, and what does that mean for the fall?How are you engaging students?
4. How are you altering your lesson plans?
5. What technology platforms are you finding to be the most effective?
6. What can you do to encourage off-screen activities as part of a healthy blended learning strategy?
7. What lessons have you learned from the first few days/weeks of distance learning? What changes are you incorporating?
8. What modes of assessment work best online?
9. How are you encouraging students to continue creating, sharing their work, and providing/receiving critiques?
10. What additional resources are you offering parents as they support their daughters’ learning?

Karen Pleasant, SBS's History Department Chair and Co-Coordinator of the IB Program, was selected as a WGBH/WGBY 2020 Educator Ambassador. She was chosen as one of 17 educators across 11 districts in Massachusetts who have 150+ years of combined experience in the field of education. The role is a two-year commitment and involves monthly meetings, webinars, assignments, and conferences. "I was really excited to be chosen for this role and have been looking for this kind of professional development," said Karen. "I have also loved PBS—and have have used it as a classroom resource—for years. Now I have the opportunity to serve as an ambassador and teach my fellow colleagues about all that PBS Learning Media has to offer. We are a diverse group of teachers and I am inspired to learn more about what it's like to teach underserved populations." To learn more, visit www.wgbhedambassadors.org.

Prior to the start of the 2019-2020 school year, new athletic trainer Emily Dylewski and Associate Director of Admissions Brittany Weiss attended a Junior Boarding School Association faculty conference at Eaglebrook School in August that included sessions on coaching philosophies, professional boundaries, how to care for international students, and more. Emily reports, "I enjoyed attending the conference at the Eaglebrook School. Being a new employee at an institution such as this can be daunting at first glance. How will I maintain a balance between work life and home life? It was helpful to learn from experienced professionals about how they keep boundaries while having meaningful interactions with their students. The session called 'Words Matter: How the words we choose and the way we say them affects students' was great; I have applied this awareness to not only my work-place, but my personal life as well."

Academic Center Director Apple Gifford participated in an online course designed to introduce teachers to the educational philosophy of the IB program. The course was called "Approaches to Learning and Approaches to Teaching" and it provided a broad overview of the different methods teachers use in IB classrooms. While Apple doesn't currently teach an IB Diploma Program course, she is always looking for ways to prepare students for their upper-level classes. By taking this course, she learned how to frame her curriculum around specific skills and strategies that will prepare students for the Diploma Program here at SBS and for lifelong learning after they graduate. 

Cat Wagner attended a session of Impulstanz, an annual international dance festival based in Vienna, Austria. Cat participated in a Viewpoints intensive with master teacher and Viewpoints creator Mary Overlie. Viewpoints is a compositional framework that Cat now incorporates as a training practice and potential choreographic method with her IB Dance students. Cat also attended two very experimental performances, one by dance theatre company Ultima Vez and another by renowned choreographer and scholar Jonathan Burrows.

Art teacher Hannah Richards attended the Art Educator Summer Institute at Montserrat College of Art this past June, where she took weeklong workshops in figure drawing and screen printing. In July, she participated in a 3-week, 6 day/week intensive at Zea Mays Printmaking Studio, an internationally recognized green/low-toxicity studio that is also a research facility for continually evolving new green practices and materials, and earned a Certificate in Green Printmaking for Intaglio. She has integrated what she learned into our studio practices here, such as greener cleaning products and air-purifying plants in the studios and new intaglio printmaking techniques offered in our printmaking course. She will be exhibiting some of that work at the upcoming Print Fair North at A.P.E. Gallery in Northampton. 

Middle School Dean Bill Ivey and Humanities teacher Karen Suchenski helped facilitate the New England New Teachers Seminar 2.0 conference in August, sponsored by AISNE and CAIS and designed for teachers with at least one year of experience. Bill co-presented on the topic “Know and support student learners” along with Heather Flewelling, Karen co-presented on the topic “Organize classrooms and lessons for learning” along with Pam Mulcahy, and Bill served as a cohort leader. Additionally, both Karen and Bill served as master teachers, focusing respectively on differentiation of design, instruction, and classroom management, and on student agency.

Bill Ivey also attended the AISNE Teaching and Learning Conference 2020 on Thursday, February 13. Keynotes were given by Jessica Lahey on "The Gift of Failure" and Marc Brackett on "Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help our Students, Ourselves, and our Society Thrive." Bill attended breakout sessions on "Tools for Students and Teachers to Navigate Political Discourse," facilitated by Kent Lenci, and "Setting Intentions and Leaning Into Change," facilitated by Afrika Alena Mills. Ms. Mills also facilitated a session for all attendees on the theme "If You See Something, Say Something." He left with a wealth of resources and thinking points for further reflection on supporting student growth and working for equity.

Dean of Faculty Shawn Durrett also served as a master teacher at the NENTS 1.0 and 2.0 conferences, mentoring early-career English teachers in curriculum design and assessment, and presenting a workshop on the teaching of writing skills. 

Instrumental music teacher Greg Snedeker released “Anishana - Corners of the Sky,” a contemporary jazz recording inspired by and based on Native American chants. Hilary Noble, saxophones, flute, and percussion; Greg Snedeker, piano and cello; Hawk Henries, Native American flutes; Steve Langone, drums and percussion; Will Slater, bass. Available on CD and online. 

UMASS-based consultants Keisha Green and Alisha Jean-Denis (parent of Jayla, class of 2025) engaged faculty in discussion of two of our professional summer reads: White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Race, by Robin DiAngelo, and Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower, by Brittany Cooper. On-going work with these consultants focuses on cultivating an equitable and inclusive community at SBS. A third faculty summer reading choice was: Under Pressure, Confronting The Epidemic Of Stress And Anxiety In Girls, by Lisa D’Amour. We invite interested parents to check out these titles!

Meghan Lena attended the Research Teachers Conference with the Society for Science and the Public from September 27-29 in Washington, DC. Meghan worked with other science teachers, sharing best practices, resources, and strategies on everything from conducting research using peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, how to teach and use biostatistics, integrating big data sets into classroom learning, and scaffolding and supporting the student-led scientific research project.

On October 8, Miriam Przybyla-Baum participated in Headways hosted by the National Coalition of Girls School. Using Zoom, Miriam conferenced with five language teachers/administrators from Illinois, California and British Columbia. They discussed the changing landscape of language instruction over the last quarter century, including what their departments are named, which courses they offer/no longer offer, and what their graduation requirements are. They also discussed promotion of language learning at our schools, online proficiency tests, and college language requirements.

Summer IB trainings for faculty included: Theory of Knowledge Course (Mathematics Department Chair Andrew Bergdahl); Language A: English Literature (English Department Chair Kara Fagan); Language B: Chinese (Chinese teacher Tiantian Wang); Approaches to Teaching and Learning (Apple Gifford, Director of the Academic Center).


Written by Maeve Ryan

Filed Under: faculty