The faculty and staff came back on Monday to a week of meetings and professional development. This year, I asked for volunteers to teach workshops on whatever topics they wanted. We ended up with a wide range of things: using our course management system, teaching with writing, differentiated instruction, Google docs, diversity in literature, and more. We had close to 30 people offer at least one session. I saw some really amazing things.
I’ve said in this space many times before what amazing people I work with. I’m reminded of it time and again. The great thing about this week was that people mixed it up. There were 4th grade teachers hanging with 11th grade history teachers. In a PreK-12 school with some physical separation between divisions, it can be challenging for everyone to get to know each other and find opportunities to share information or even work together. So I was happy to see that happening at least for this week.
One of my favorite moments came at the end, just yesterday. My department put together a BreakoutEDU session for our faculty. BreakoutEDU is like Escape the Room except instead of breaking out, you break into a box. Because, you know, locking children in a room might be problematic from an ethical standpoint. The idea is that it’s not only a great way to get across some content and have it stick, but also to work on collaboration and teamwork. First, there were people from every division there: two Upper School teachers, a few Lower School, and at least one Middle School. And then, everyone really got into the clues. They divided and conquered. When they opened the first lock, there was a lot of cheering and joy. Which continued lock by lock until they got into the box and found . . . another box.
This was one of our harder clues, so they worked hard first figuring out what the clue was asking, then figuring out the answer. One of our kindergarten teachers was holding the box and kept trying the different combinations the group suggested. After many, many tries, the box’s latch popped open and the teacher jumped and gasped with surprise. It was the best reaction ever, and the whole room cheered!
At one point, everyone in the room had to share one thing they loved about working at our school in order to get a key. Everyone said some very cool things and different things as they had different roles in the school. The kindergarten teacher said that she realized over the summer that working at an all-girls’ school had made her a better woman. I just thought that captured pretty much what a lot of us feel about our work. We’re better people because of it.