Can We Match Faculty Development Cultures with Student Growth Expectations? | 8 Min Read

You are an innovative school that provides numerous opportunities for your students to learn in a variety of ways based on their strengths and interests. You create daily schedules that make it easy for those students to take advantage of the opportunities afforded them. You encourage them to travel abroad and explore summer experiences to enrich and enhance their collection of school year activities. There is absolutely no question regarding the priority of great student learning at your school.

Are you able to say the same of your faculty? What priority do you place on their learning experiences? Here is the story of one school.

Several years ago, Choate Rosemary Hall created a new office of the dean of faculty that included a director of faculty development. The first appointee was a colleague I had worked with for many years, designing and teaching history courses. Gratefully, he was also my son’s academic advisor and crew coach. Since I was responsible for technology integration, a process driven by pedagogy, I worked closely with Tom. He devised a number of faculty PD programs that reinforced the school’s recognition that supporting the professional skills of the faculty was critical to the future success of the school.

  1. New Faculty: While the school always had a weeklong orientation for new faculty just prior to the opening of school, it was clear that the short-term memories of these folks overflowed several times as they heard about “everything they needed to know in order to begin the school year.” A few years ago, the orientation was shortened and simplified, and a new program added that brought the rookie group together once a week. Each week, different members of the Choate leadership team worked with new faculty on specific topics such as report writing, grading, academic advising, balancing workload, innovative and design thinking, parents weekend, etc. Feedback was very positive and these new faculty members felt they were well supported and knew the people they might approach when they had questions.
  2. Reflective Educators: Lest you might think second and third-year faculty were neglected, rest assured that they were ushered into the Reflective Educators cohort. What’s great about this group is that it is open to all faculty members of any experience level. The format is similar to the first-year format except that the group meets bi-weekly, and the topics are completely focused on teaching and learning. As an experienced member of that group, I recall sessions on formative assessment,…
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Joel Backon

Joel Backon has been the Editor of Intrepid Ed News since its inception in January 2021, responsible for all educator content on the website. He joined the OESIS Network, owner of Intrepid, in 2019 as Vice President. Joel spent much of his career at Choate Rosemary Hall (CT) where for 27 years he held founding roles in Information and Academic Technology, as well as being a classroom teacher, curriculum designer, coach, dorm head, and student adviser. Prior to Choate, Joel spent 15 years in the printing and publishing industry educating printers on how to maximize their strengths and minimize weaknesses. He has crusaded to achieve consensus on the question of why we educate kids in an effort to meet the learning needs of every student.