Reflections from Katie: May 5, 2016

One thing that makes Cambridgeport a special learning environment for children is that our teachers are life long learners. It is always something that I look for in candidates who apply to teach at Cambridgeport, and also something I seek to support and expand as teachers move through their years as educators here.

I wanted to share with you two ways we have been learning together as a staff this year. The first is through peer observations. About once each month, teachers at a grade level come together to think about a lesson. After they have fine-tuned the lesson during a planning session, one teacher teaches the lesson while the rest of the team (including math or literacy coach, principal, ESL teacher, special educator) observes. After the lesson, the team comes together to share what they observed. This process allows teachers to pay careful attention to the impact of the teaching on individual students. These careful observations then lead to rich discussions of how children learn. We have had these deep discussions about how to support students’ language development, how to support their agency and ownership of the learning, and how children learn to have rich discussions themselves. We end each of these discussions with time to reflect on what was learned and what each teacher is taking away for their own practice. Teachers have repeatedly told me that these experiences have led to some of the most important and relevant learning in their careers.

Another way we have been learning together this year is through self-selected book groups. We offered up a range of titles, and teachers chose what they wanted to read to support their ongoing professional development. The titles we have been reading include: Everyday Anti-Racism: Getting Real About Race in School, edited by Mica Pollock; The Behavior Code by Jessica Minihan; Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen; Academic Conversations by Jeff Zweirs; and The Unstoppable Writing Teacher by Colleen Cruz. These conversations have been rich and important, and teachers are all taking away specific ideas to their teaching.

On a completely different note, I hope to see many of you at the annual Spring Fling on Saturday. This is a wonderful event put on by the CPTO. Of course, it is a fundraiser, but more importantly it’s a fun time. Many students will be performing and sharing their talents, and a great time will be had by all! See you on Saturday, May 7th from 4:30-6:30PM.