Teachers as Learners: Spring Staff Development Day
By Beth Wise, Head Teacher and Music Specialist
Each year as spring approaches, teachers reflect upon the culture of their classroom and students, the individual needs of children and the philosophy of the school itself. On April 24, teachers attended a full day of workshops, which stimulated discussion, provided concrete information and aided them in this process of reflection.
The day began with a presentation by Ronald Mah, a licensed Marriage and Family therapist. Mah’s workshop, “Multi-culturalism and Diversity,” stimulated a lively discussion and dispelled many common misconceptions about what culture is and how to strive to create a multi-cultural environment. This led us to examine some of the founding principles of our school, such as our commitment to diversity, our belief in the abilities of all children and our respect for each child as an individual. In his discussion of how to create successful cross-cultural relationships, Mah reviewed the foundations of respect, understanding, empathy and connection. This led to a continuation of discussions throughout the following months and provided a stepping-stone for deeper reflection.
As a laboratory school, Bing is committed to supporting ongoing research in the field of child development. The researchers become part of the culture of the school and the teachers welcome the chance to hear an in-depth explanation of the research process. The following studies were examined: The Role Of Inhibition in Perspective Taking, The Preciseness of Children’s Imitations,
The Absence of Shape Bias in Children’s Word Learning, and Individual Differences and Cognitive Flexibility in Preschool Children. Researchers Jamie Leach, Becky Williamson, Andrei Cimpian and Lisa Smythe each described the protocols they used in the game rooms, the responses they have received from children thus far, and how these results related to their original hypotheses.
The afternoon sessions focused on providing specific training in the area of speech and language development. One of the West Room parents, Mayra Leon Cramer, a pediatric speech and language pathologist, led an outstanding session aimed at helping teachers better understand the speech and language patterns of young children. She dispelled common misconceptions regarding speech production and communication, outlined typical speech development for children age 6 months to 3 years, and discussed how visual, motor, communication, social and play skills are closely connected with language development and learning. Furthermore, Cramer described the signs that may indicate problems such as hearing loss, social-emotional disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder, all of which could also result in speech issues.
The day ended with a choice of two music workshops by Bing teachers: Beginning Ukelele Instruction with Kitti Pecka and Exploring New Music Resource Materials with Beth Wise. The staff preparing to present for the upcoming Bing Parent Seminar Series met for a brainstorming session.