I like to think of TanenbaumCHAT as a community of learners where staff members model for our students lifelong learning. This commitment is translated into concrete terms every summer when teachers and administrators spend time becoming better at teaching and leading.
This past summer was no different. Some attended workshops locally; others traveled to conferences in the US and Israel. Three teachers, for example, traveled to Emory University in Atlanta, GA for a weeklong conference at the Centre for Israel Education and two attended a workshop at Yeshiva University in New York to begin a yearlong course in experiential Jewish education. One of our music teachers participated in a four day “Wind Conducting Symposium” held at the University of Toronto and polished her conducting skills under the tutelage of masters from around North America.
Some of our teachers traveled to Europe to participate on history tours, spend time in art museums, study architecture, and visit historic synagogues. Others stayed at home and took advantage of the Pan Am and Para Pan Am Games in Toronto and volunteered simply because it’s good to volunteer and ended up benefiting professionally as well. One wrote book reviews for an online review site and published academic articles; another continued his studies in an online certificate course. Another worked on her PhD.
Asked what he did this summer, one teacher echoed the experience of many teachers saying, “I am constantly working on revamping my courses to make them as relevant and engaging as they can be. This summer, I spent time incorporating some changes based on student feedback. A colleague and I also spent a day with the author of the textbooks we use for both of our senior business courses. She gave us great insights and ideas for differentiated methods of teaching the materials. I also spent some time meeting with some teachers from other schools to exchange ideas.”
Another teacher attended a workshop entitled “Creating Thinking Classrooms; Leading Educational Change for a 21st Century World.” With presenters from the Critical Thinking Consortium, she and teachers and administrators from both private and public schools discussed and brainstormed what a “thinking classroom” in the 21st century should look like and studied the five guiding principles to creating the latter: 1) Engage students 2) Sustain inquiry 3) Nurture self-regulated learners 4) Create assessment-rich learning 5) Enhance learning through digital technology. Interesting enough, these five principles are also the core principles of digital game design, such as Angry Birds and Minecraft!
Our teachers understand that they drive academic excellence. It’s for that reason that they continually work to become leaders in their field—during the summer, throughout the year, on weekends, and in the evening. They and our Principals lead the way in building a community of lifelong learners.