I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. The magic of our school is all wrapped up in the magic of the humans that are here.
Hey, here are some cool humans: Taylor Davis (PK3), Jessica Parker-Farris (Lower School Art), Hannah Williams-Inman (Middle School Spanish), and Matt Luter (Upper School English).
What could they possibly have in common? They are our new 23-24 TEAM (Teacher Education, Assistance, and Mentoring) reps, and they share a deep interest/passion/commitment to all things teaching and learning. I know, I know, we all do. We work at a school. But these guys REALLY do. Let me prove it by sharing snippets from their applications, glimpses into their vision of what a community of faculty can really afford:
Representing Early Childhood (PK3-K): Taylor Davis
[I want to] help with alignment in ECC by putting a spotlight on things that are effective in each classroom. I always enjoy visiting schools and bringing back ideas and making them work in my own classroom. Sharing these ideas with colleagues and recognizing that wonderful things are happening all around us can sometimes be hard. I believe more opportunities to share out within ECC needs to be a priority.
Representing Lower School (1st-4th): Jessica Parker-Farris
I enjoy reflecting and connecting through sharing stories/findings. . . I’ve been reading “The Daily Lives of Artists,” and it’s about how each individual artist had to figure out their uniquely quirky self in order to be prolific and create. I’ve found that I’m burned out as an educator – maybe it’s just being a human who’s just turned 40 – which is why I’ve started trying to figure out what I need personally to find joy, and I think it may very well be through connecting with co-workers through our shared experience! My goal and hope for being a part of TEAM would be that it proves a fun way to reflect, connect with coworkers, and find joy in the difficult and often chaotic challenge of teaching.
As someone who was not an education major, I think of Neil Postman and his book “Teaching as a Subversive Activity.” In it he talks about the true “content” of learning, which is meaning making – “What’s worth knowing?” – and learning how to learn through the sheer joy of discovery. I think what we perhaps forget as educators is that, more than anything, we have to facilitate experiences that promote a love of learning NOW so that kids develop a positive relationship with the uncertainty of our ever-changing world. I think this is also just as true for educators. Some of the things that have helped me most as an educator this past year haven’t been new skills for teaching but following passions of curiosity to renew my own personal growth and joy as a human being.
I think we should reconsider what “counts” as professional development. Many of us get into the monotonous routine of focusing on our students and their needs (rightly so!) but without reflecting on personal growth, passions, and wellness. [Last year] I signed up for Rev. Hailey’s PLC because I thought, I can’t give anything else right now..I need to be filled up myself!, and it was SO wonderful and exactly what I needed. I also signed up for a monthly subscription this past year to study lessons with professional artists as I’m interested in illustration and animation, and it too has been one of the biggest renewals of my energy and has continually informed my teaching. I also think learning what other educators are passionate about might help better connect our community. Creativity and innovation lie in making new connections, and that can only happen if we shift perspectives, and sometimes that might be what we consider “playing.”
Representing Middle School: Hannah Williams-Inman
Community is an important value both for me and St. Andrew’s. . . and I look forward to opportunities to help grow our community toward being united and on each others’ teams as the years roll through. We have so much to offer each other both professionally and emotionally, and I think we do ourselves a disservice when we aren’t sharing the love and knowledge and experience we each individually cultivate in our own teaching practice.
St. Andrew’s has a rich history of experience in teaching and learning, and there are so many teachers with so many good and productive years of teaching under their belts. In addition, it seems in recent years that St. Andrew’s has made a conscious effort to also offer jobs to younger teachers with less experience, and take a chance that they may bring something valuable to this community as well. Hopefully, St. Andrew’s has been made better by both the inexperienced and seasoned perspectives it brings together through the practice of teaching (sometimes even having those teachers on the same team).However, even as St. Andrew’s brings these very different teachers together within the same school community, our classes and teaching styles often couldn’t differ more, and we don’t often have a ton of overlap professionally. I wonder about the future of a teaching community that is deeply connected across these varying experiences – I know I have so much to learn from teachers who have been doing this for a long time, and I also know that I have valuable things to offer them as well. I would love to be a part of seeing these connections formed or deepened over the next few years!
Representing Upper School: Matt Luter
I would like to create opportunities for PD at SA to be a bit more bottom-up than top-down–in other words, I’d hope to see our programming built around the needs and interests that faculty voice to admin and to each other (as opposed to, say, the model of bringing in a big-name speaker for a one-and-done presentation). Along those lines, I’d also hope to see more faculty-led PD that gives recognition to the expert practitioners among us and lets them share with colleagues the strategies that have helped them build successful classrooms. (And of course, I’d always be glad for us to have more discussion of alternative modes of assessment and shifting campus culture with regard to grading.)
All of us begin the year with high hopes and goals. And all of us are currently finding us scratching our heads in disbelief, repeating the refrain: “ How is it OCTOBER already?!” Still, I think there is time, much time, to do good work. And I am very grateful to be guided by the thinking, philosophies, and priorities that Taylor, Jessica, Hannah, and Matt bring to the table.