Attending my first California IT in Education (CITE) conference was an enlightening and transformative experience that left a lasting mark on my professional journey. This conference opened my eyes to new innovative approaches that can be employed to enhance teaching and learning.
The sessions and workshops dove into various aspects of educational technology, from interactive learning platforms to virtual reality applications. Learning about these cutting-edge tools expanded my understanding of how technology can cater to different learning styles, making learning more accessible and engaging for students. Sessions I attended included: Hands-on Apple Lab, Revolutionize IT Helpdesk Support, From Computer Technician to CTO, and many others!
The networking opportunities at the conference were great! Connecting with fellow educators, tech experts, and industry professionals allowed me to exchange ideas, share experiences, and learn from the challenges and successes of others. These connections not only expanded my professional network but also provided ongoing support and mentorship. I was able to meet Apple engineers and discuss deployment strategies and struggles.
The conference not only strengthened my existing skills but also inspired me to explore new avenues in education technology. Witnessing passionate educators and tech enthusiasts share their success stories ignited a renewed sense of purpose and enthusiasm within me. I left the conference with a clear vision of how I could leverage technology to create a more dynamic and inclusive learning environment for our students.
In conclusion, attending my first CITE conference was a transformative experience that significantly influenced my professional practice. The knowledge gained, the connections made, and the inspiration garnered have collectively contributed to my growth as an IT Specialist.
The POCC conference this year was so valuable and there were SO many sessions to choose from every day. I chose to attend “Educating to Empower—Returning to Ancestral Practices of Passing Down Knowledge," “Ethical Integration of Indigenous Voices in Anti-Bias Classrooms," “The Role of the Race-Conscious Educator in Combating Oppression," and “Education for Liberation- Facilitating Transformation in the Classroom and Beyond.” Some of the highlights and biggest takeaways for me from these workshops included:
Seeing “liberatory facilitation” modeled by a very skilled facilitator with a background in political education/community organizing. Applying principles to feelings I’ve had about what good facilitation looks like and walking away with some tangible next steps about how to incorporate them into my classes through norms creation, how I frame my role as the facilitator and facilitation techniques. - Principles we talked about included: Be an active facilitator: respond, affirm, synthesize. Be explicit about race, class and gender - we can’t address a problem without naming it explicitly. Make space for feelings while continuing to be aware of power dynamics in the room.
The aim of education is radical transformation
The value of moving away from hierarchical models of teaching and learning towards centering students inherent wisdom, especially in the kinds of topics we cover in Wellness and Belonging. Teachers are students and students are teachers.
Reflecting on how to incorporate pre-colonial ways of learning and teaching, like storytelling, into my classes. By far the most meaningful part of the conference was hearing from the CPS students who attended about what landed most for them. Those conversations have left me thinking a lot about how to foster an environment where conflict/disagreement can be generative, people feel able to connect across different and disagreement, and building skills for communication around this in myself to share back with students.
I attended a training organized by CATDC called "Becoming an Expert Facilitator." The program focused on developing skills related to meeting design and framing, which are critical in increasing engagement and effectiveness. During the training, we discussed how context, layout, and content form the foundation of a good meeting and how one or more of these components can cause a meeting to break down if not addressed carefully. Another theme of the program was to "make the implicit explicit." We practiced using tools such as community norms and meeting user manuals to clarify expectations and create a safe environment for participants. We also used visual thinking protocols, such as 2x2s, process flow charts, and Venn diagrams, to make the meeting content more accessible. During the three-day training, we had ample opportunities to practice with the tools and strategies we learned. The program culminated in an exhibition of learning, where we presented a meeting we designed for the upcoming school year and received feedback from the other participants.
It's been a few months since I attended the training, but I still use what I learned on a weekly basis. I have shared several tools with Danya and Alexandria and have used my new-found meeting design skills to enhance the frame of the Student Support Team meetings this year. I highly recommend this professional development workshop to anyone who facilitates meetings regularly!
I appreciated this experience as it gave me the necessary incentive to devote a large chunk of time to really figuring out not only the overall scope and sequence of my new course, but also the time to dive a bit more deeply into the actual source material that I will be using and some of the current research on climate change. It did make me realize that there is a whole lot of bad and inflammatory information out there about climate science so I now have some better strategies and ideas as to how to help students to deal with the overwhelming amount of ideas and information (some of it bad) that is out there.
This new course development PD experience was a fun deep dive into the planning process for a new course. It allowed me to compare sources and reflect on the learning goals I had for this elective. My main focus was figuring out ways to hold students accountable without the traditional tools of timed quizzes and tests. While I am still going to give one midterm exam, everything else is non-timed, mostly collaborative (in pairs): fortnightly problem sets and student content presentations. The challenge was to develop clear rubrics to convey my expectations and learning goals, which overall was the biggest personal benefit from the PD experience. Rubrics are the ingredients that make the learning sauce come together!
The Stanley King Institute focuses on deep listening and strengthening skills as counselor and advisors. Starting with an overview of adolescent developmental psychology, there was a mixture of lectures, demonstrations, and practice exercises. It was inspiring to hear the experiences of teachers from a wide variety or disciplines from across the country. The instructors were expertly skilled and had thoughtful, personalized advice. I think it will strengthen my skills as a ninth grade advisor listening to and supporting our students in their transition to high school. I took extensive notes on different listening strategies and I'd be happy to share them with any interested colleague! The whole experience helped me reflect on my role as an advisor, supporter, and counselor.
I learned a ton of great stuff from this, from how to navigate a new position as "middle management" to some ways to observe and give feedback to other teachers in my department. There were some great tips and strategies suggested by the moderators of the course, and there was a lot of time to collaborate with other teachers who were new department heads in their schools, groups by discipline. I think it was an excellent onboarding, and it was nice that it was online since I was out of town during the workshop. The questions it brought up were more along the lines of, how will this look for me and how can I best build trust around my colleagues as I embark on this department head journey. It wasn't so much about changing my students' journey, but our department's journey. I don't think it will change much because I think our department is and has been on a good trajectory, but it will be good to continue the culture of student centered and collaborative teaching as we welcome a few newcomers to our fold.
I was directing young people, age 17-23 in a show about HS soccer players. Rather than being their teacher first, and their director second, in this environment, I was the director first and taught as necessary. I learned a lot about how direct I could be with young/green actors while still allowing them to make their own discoveries. I also learned a lot about what good young actors bring to the table. And how the demonstrate that in auditions. As I had cuts, I only selected folks I wanted to work with. I was able to hone in on what makes a young/green actor, nevertheless good. A lot came down to their specific understanding of action driven technique, their ability to take direction, and the boldness of their choices. They also all had read, closely the text. These details about what makes a good audition is something now built into my adv drama curriculum. I am also thinking of new ways to teach, and deepen, my students work with objectives and actions. Thinking about what we do professionally, and what we do as teachers, and where are trades offs are may be interesting to my colleagues. This year I am going to give feedback in several different models and help the students learn how they work best (given circumstances, actions, outside-in, constructivist, direct instruction)
I spent the summer developing a new filmmaking course I will be teaching this coming school year. Planning assignments and projects, creating equipment demonstrations, and finding movies and scenes to aid lectures made up a bulk of the labor, however, my greatest takeaway is rooted in a question that I ask myself every semester. What is stopping so-and-so from going for it? What’s giving them the most fits? While I’m sure there are many answers, it’s become more evident that, with the growing complexities of our projects, there needs to be a better approach in mastering the tools we use in our Photography (and now Filmmaking) classes. Be it scrolling through a deep menu to find the most cinematic settings, changing camera lenses, clicking dozens of buttons before printing, or even mixing chemicals for analog processes, I have come to see how certain students can forget that they are actually taking an art class. This is a different experience from my own where I got practice through repetitions at school, on a gig, and even during my free time. I have no doubts the more passionate students will find those reps, but how about those who are more on the fence (or even those who just struggle with technology)? In this regard, many students not only fear failing creatively, they fear failing and breaking something! This roadblock results in a lack of practicing outside of class and when there is no one around to help. Those, in my opinion, are the most vital for fostering creativity and experimentation. I hope to approach all my courses with a three-pronged approach. The first two simply being a matter of creating a better class atmosphere during demonstrations and allowing more free time to “just play”. The third is revamping the resources I provide to students that is better tailored and more conveniently accessible. As they stand, the resources I provide are videos that essentially summarize how to print, how to mat, how to etc… They are a mix of things I sourced online and of my own making. The original content is better received due to the relevance to our class purposes. That being said, having to scroll through a video may not be the more appealing medium when students are needing a quick answer; something they can find on a cheat sheet, for example. I plan to outfit several high-usage pieces of equipment with these notes this year as a trial run. The test not being so much the resource, but having them readily accessible via a QR code. For example, we will have three production kits in our Filmmaking course. Each contains camera, lenses, rigs, boom microphones, etc… and tucked in the equipment bag will be a stack of QR code cards, each that will send students to all the “answers” so they can feel confident when on their own. I hope this will help enable students to feel more confident in practicing with the tools we use.
I attended the Teaching Foundations conference organized by CATDC. I learned a lot over the four days: how to learn the most about incoming students through intake surveys, how to build community using various icebreakers, and how to collect and interpret student feedback. Additionally, I discussed case studies with other participants related to interacting with parents or with co-teachers who have conflicting teaching styles. Working through these examples was particularly illuminating because my partners were sometimes lower and middle school teachers, and it was helpful to hear how they would approach these conversations. I was most inspired when the facilitators shared their “values artifacts,” or objects from their classrooms that represent themselves and their core values. One facilitator described how she uses puppets in her second grade class to cultivate joy and humor, and another mentioned keeping a picture of her first cohort of students on her desk to remind herself of the importance of her work. I’m currently brainstorming what objects I could keep in my classroom to remind myself of my core values. As discussed at the conference, “We teach who we are,” and in order to build trust and community with and among my students, it is important for them to see that I bring my authentic self to each class. Overall, the conference was a positive and educational experience! It served as a great networking opportunity. In fact, I met another high school organic chemistry teacher, and we exchanged interesting and safe lab experiments as well as useful teaching strategies. In the future, I would bring a list of questions that I accumulate while teaching earlier in the year. The facilitators spent some time each day answering general questions and providing advice and tips.
I attended a day-long conference hosted by the CATDC focused on supporting women and gender-nonbinary individuals in leadership positions within independent schools. I was primarily interested in the keynote speaker, as well as learning strategies on leading courageously and being a coach and mentor to others. The keynote speaker was phenomenal, though the conference didn't really help me achieve my second goal as the rest of it was mostly focused around networking and a panel on a few individuals' leadership journeys.
Rates of anxiety and depression have doubled since the pandemic, and increasingly, I’m working with a lot of students who are struggling with anxiety, as is every learning specialist I know. I signed up for Jessica Minahan’s webinar, “Practical Trauma-Informed Strategies to Reduce Anxiety in Students,” because I was hoping to learn more about how anxiety works on a neurobiological level and how it impacts academic functioning. The webinar was excellent, and I learned a lot. For starters, there’s a direct correlation between anxiety and working memory: as anxiety goes up, working memory goes down at exactly the same rate. Working memory is how we’re able to access information in short and long-term memory as needed, and it's required for pretty much anything we're doing in school. It’s how we retrieve information as needed and how we hold multiple steps in mind; it is also required to regulate our own behavior. I was shocked to learn that we can lose 13 to 20 points of our IQ when we're stressed!
I had the honor of being part of a group of White and African-American women from September - November in an online series intended to "create a compassionate space in which to explore and transform the impact of racism on the body." While I had read "The Body Keeps the Score," I had no idea what to expect from this body-centered workshop. I jumped in despite this, as I trust one of the teachers deeply and I am committed to seeking out and committing to new opportunities to learn about (and un-learn) racism. I was rewarded for the risk. Some magic happened in this group for me, beyond what I could have imagined. Without sharing the stories of the group, I will say it was both powerful and heart-opening. It was certainly a well-held, brave space, one I hope to not forget for a long time.
Grace Allen and Enver Casimir joined the Atlantic World teaching team this year, each bringing broad experience in teaching history to advanced, curious students. Preston Tucker introduced them to the existing Atlantic World curriculum, and we discussed some modifications for the coming year (with a special emphasis on incorporating more BIPOC historians and perspectives). We reviewed course learning goals in detail and mapped out a day-by-day plan for the first semester. Careful attention was given to the assessment of our shared learning goals. Thanks to this time together, the team is ready to deliver a concerted, cohesive curriculum to the 10th-grade class. We will build on this tight collaboration with weekly meetings through the school year.
I spent several weeks this summer immersed in re-reading and reading anew numerous scholarly articles and book chapters that will make their way into the course reader for my History of Capitalism seminar in the spring. Those that did not make it to the final cut will still certainly inform the course as a whole. Because of this time I put into course planning over the summer, I now know the readings that will go into the reader, and have developed reading question handouts and other course-related materials for many of the readings. Since many of the readings will be assigned in excerpted form, I also identified the passages that could be cut to allow the readings for the course to more streamlined for the students while not losing any breadth by having to limit the number of readings too much.
This summer, in order to create a new Advanced Conversational Chinese Course that is engaging and useful for students who passed AP Chinese test, I did a lot of research on language learning and language acquisition. Through the process, I have gained a new perspective about learning a language as a subject, that is, it shouldn't be a subject. Because the ultimate goal for any language learning is to communicate, not to pass tests. If you look at how native speakers learn to speak, grammars are never the center of any of the practices. So, instead of "learning" the language, they are "acquiring" the language unconsciously. Sadly, the school system is designed to learn grammars for tests, not fluency for speaking. What is the point of learning Chinese, or any languages, if you cannot make a normal conversation with native speakers?
I attended a powerful, two-day foundations course co-facilitated by Resmaa Menaken, author of My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and Pathways to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies. In the course we focused on acknowledging, holding, and responding to the somatic responses that we experience while constantly living, working, teaching, and being students in a highly racialized society. While, in part, we discussed the histories and constructions of race, racial trauma, and anti-blackness, we returned to somatic awareness with the knowledge that cognition alone is not a salve, that the work of deeply healing racial trauma takes time and presence, and that the trauma and work to heal it is collective. We deepened our understanding of the restorative tools Menaken offers in My Grandmother’s Hands. Most importantly, and in line with the proposal of the book, we practiced the tools.
This summer, I attended the Institute for Writing and Thinking at Bard University in Annadale-on-Hudson, New York. The institute offers various themed workshops that all center writing-based pedagogy implementable across disciplines. I took the “Writing-Based Teaching and Anti-Racist Pedagogies” workshop. This was the first year IWT offered a workshop directly centered around anti-racism. Institutional work around anti-racism inherently creates discomfort at times, and this workshop was no exception. Though I would recommend this first iteration of the “Anti-Racist Pedagogies” workshop to white-identified educators, for me—the only Black woman and one of only two BIPOC participants—it often replicated a difficult and typical dynamic. It made clear the need for affinity spaces and somatic awareness when engaged in work around anti-racism. As an accidental result of the work, my "lived" knowledge and empathy around the potential experiences (and invisible labor) of students of color in our classrooms was reiterated and deepened; it put me back in those shoes. And despite the challenges, I learned many useful teaching tools connected to the Institute’s philosophy around writing as a tool for thinking. The facilitators were skillful and workshops were immersive; we learned through doing. I left with many invaluable, student-centered, writing-based practices and strategies that I will put to use in my English classrooms.
This summer I developed curriculum for an upper-level English seminar centered around themes of friendship portrayed in literature. I completed the following work:
Reread key texts including Artistotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, Toni Morrison’s Sula, Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, and several others short texts and poems
Identified and articulated key learning goals
Created the seeds of engaging and meaningful thematic questions that students will collaboratively develop with greater specificity and nuance
Identified key passages and created strategic and specific plans for close reading
Incorporated strategies from my PD with Bard’s Institute for Writing and Thinking into my plans for student engagement with text through informal writing, discussions strategies, and other teaching tools.
Developed formal writing prompts and rubric
Created the plans for a collaborative, multi-media, student project that will allow students examine thematic questions, implement analysis drawn from close reading, and make meaningful literary and personal connections
Built Canvas site
This curriculum will be implemented in the Fall of 2022.
For the past few months I had the opportunity to create a new Math 5 course at CPS. This work was funded by a Teece Grant.
To begin creating the materials for the course, I spent a considerable amount of time deciding on the textbook for the class. After browsing through several books on the subject, I finally narrowed the list of choices down to three. From this point the real fun began, and although I had read all three books from cover-to-cover I still enjoyed re-reading them. While the time spent reading the books was enjoyable, it did begin to wear me down. Luckily, after a few weeks, I decided on the perfect book for our class, Tom Apostol’s ‘’Calculus, Volume 1,” the book that is currently being used in Math 4.