Posts Tagged 'Teacher Professional Development'

OLA Workshop at BAA’s Center for Arts in Education

Last week, BAA’s Center for Arts in Education hosted Darcy Rogers for a full-day workshop on her Organic Language Acquisition (OLA) technique. I first met Darcy at her school, Crater Renaissance Academy in Oregon, and then I ran into her again at the Coalition of Essential Schools Fall Forum, where she presented her workshop on OLA- a kinesthetic approach to learning a language. I knew we had to get her in to BAA, so when I learned she was coming to the Parker School in Western Mass, I jumped at the chance!

We had about 15 educators from Boston and the surrounding areas as well as Boston Public Schools central office folks (including Yu-Lan Lin, the World Languages Program Director for BPS) attend the full-day workshop, which included BAA students actually learning the technique alongside the adults!

I see Darcy’s work as one of the many valuable techniques that innovative teachers develop to counter the increasingly high-stakes-testing-obsessed culture we live with in our schools. In my new role next year as Executive Director of BAA’s Center for Arts in Education, I am excited to sponsor more workshops and institutes featuring work like Darcy’s… We were so glad she could join us at BAA for this high-energy workshop!


Instructional Rounds

Last Thursday we hosted Instructional Rounds (IR) at BAA. Instructional rounds are the new buzzword in education, largely defined by Lee Teitel and Richard Elmore at Harvard. The purpose of the rounds is to analyze and improve teaching and learning practices at the classroom level. Although I’m not completely convinced yet how helpful the results of the observations are, what IS powerful is getting teachers, students, parents, and administrators out of their routines and looking deeply at the practices of teaching and learning in a different context and through a different lens than they experience during the day-to-day.

I am proud that BAA was the first Boston Public School to have students and parents participate in the rounds. They were absolutely phenomenal. The parents were honored to be a part of the process and found it extremely helpful to think about the school as a whole rather than just the needs of their own student.  The 5 students who participated spoke eloquently and passionately about the positive aspects of BAA, as well as pointed out the real challenges for including all learners.

One of my favorite comments came from a BAA music student who pointed out the differences between the theatre student warm-ups she observed and the music vocal warm-ups she experiences in her own classes. She enjoyed how theatre students both warmed up their bodies and built community at the same time, and she was excited to bring that practice back to her music classes. I loved watching this mini “teaching moment” happening for a student!

Later that evening at my HGSE (Harvard Graduate School of Education) class, three seniors from a new turnaround high school came and spoke. They were all transferred to this new school after their high schools were closed for underperformance. Despite the fact that they had experienced their previous schools firsthand and hold a wealth of information about what worked and didn’t work for them, they told my class that they had no input on structures or practices at their new school. Their disempowerment and lack of engagement in the process of constructing their own educations was jarring, especially after watching parents and students blossom during the IR at BAA earlier that morning.

The takeaway from last Thursday for me was this: when we’re thinking about school reform, I am reminded again that we need to put the voices of students and parents at the forefront of the discussion. How do we incorporate these voices so that they are not an afterthought, but a forethought? After all, who is school reform really for?

Occupy the Department of Education!

I had to blog about Confessions of a ‘Bad’ Teacher from this past Sunday’s New York Times… everyone needs to read this article so we can stop and think about how our federal and state policies are affecting teachers and kids in our classrooms.
I will be joining BAA teachers and many others in Washington, DC at Occupy the DOE (Department of Education) at the end of March for a teach-in to underscore how limiting and short-sighted so many of our current policies are. They are based on an “I gotcha” mentality- on how we can “improve” education by punishing teachers and kids.
I know it’s complicated to create a system of accountability that actually trusts teachers, but we must try. As Johnson points out in this NYT article, the messages we are sending teachers are confusing and contradictory, and the ways we are assessing kids and teachers are ludicrous.
We cannot hope to have engaged students and young people who want to participate in our fragile democracy with such backwards policies. We must be the change we want to see. Let’s organize and go to DC!

The Art of Leadership

I wrote The Art of Leadership for the American School Board Journal in June 2011… it’s also posted on the Publications tab of my blog. Comments are welcome!

News from the Coalition of Essential Schools

Two exciting pieces of news from the Coalition of Essential Schools…

The first is that registration is now open for Fall Forum 2011! I cannot emphasize enough what an amazing professional development opportunity this is. A Boston Arts Academy team attends each each year and I highly encourage you to look into coming as well!

November 10-12
Providence, RI 
  • pre-conference sessions
  • Essential school visits
  • featured sessions and speakers including Deborah Meier, The Gamm Theater’s Tony Estrella, Gary Stager, What Kids Can Do’s Kathleen Cushman and Barbara Cervone, The Forum For Education and Democracy’s Sizer Fellows, Ron Wolk, Dennis Littky, and more.
  • an “UnConference” afternoon
  • youth-focused strand of sessions and learning opportunities
  • and, of course, the educator- and student-led workshops that are the heart and soul of Fall Forum (full workshop details will be posted on 9/22)
Visit the main Fall Forum page at for more information.

Summer Institute at Boston Arts Academy

I’m excited to announce that the eighth annual Summer Institute for Arts in Education will be held at Boston Arts Academy from June 29 to July 1, 2011. Summer Institute is a three-day conference for local, national, and international educators, geared for K-12 teachers, administrators, and district-level professionals who want to refine and reinvent their current practices, curriculums, classrooms, schools and districts.

The focus of this year’s Summer Institute is Art and Science: Examining Intersections Where The Two Meet. The program will include speakers, presentations and workshops focusing on the interdisciplinary nature of art and science. We are delighted that Ioannis Miaoulis, President and Director of the Museum of Science in Boston, will be our keynote speaker!

During Summer Institute (SI), themes of technology, engineering, and math will be explored through the lens of various arts disciplines to engage students and maximize learning. In addition, SI will also feature the popular workshop topics of literacy, advisory systems, and project-based learning. Contact Corey Evans at for more information or to register! I hope to see you there!

Burned In

I recently joined a prestigious group of educators and authors, contributing a chapter to a new book titled Burned In: Fueling the Fire to Teach. Edited by Audrey A. Friedman and Luke Reynolds and published by Teachers College Press, this inspiring book asked veteran educators for advice specifically aimed at helping new teachers “burn in” instead “burn out.” I am so proud to have been included in this project!

Burned In

Here is the official description of Burned In:

Almost half of new teachers leave the profession within their first year. New teachers need support, mentoring, encouragement, and, most importantly, hope in order to survive the challenges of their first years of teaching. Burned In features essays from today’s most visionary educators. Their personal stories will help fuel new and veteran educators’ passion for teaching so they stay “burned in” instead of burning out. Readers will hear inspiring stories of veteran public school teachers, as well as powerful research findings about what teachers need to succeed in today’s classrooms. Never before has a single volume brought together the experiences of so many renowned teachers, scholars, and bestselling authors.

The editors of this collection are donating their royalties to the Center for Courage and Renewal and the Children’s Defense Fund.

Here is a list of the contributing authors with links about them (where available).

Jim Burke
Michael Dunn
Andy Hargreaves

Rosetta Marantz Cohen
Curt Dudley-Marling

James W. Loewen
Sam Intrator
Gregory Michie
Peter Elbow
Patricia A. Wasley
Parker Palmer
Sam Scheer
Zoe Weil

Kirsten Olson
Christopher L. Doyle
Sonia Nieto

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