From the desk of Lower School Director Kelly Banik
Collaboration Among Teachers Breeds Student Success
Although it is commonly known how hard our Beginnings teachers work (teachers frequently beat me into school when I arrive at 6:45 a.m. and are often still present 10-12 hours later), I am not certain most are aware of the amount of collaboration that takes place among our teachers.
Grade level teams and I meet weekly to discuss and design curriculum, plan for special events, track student progress, and explore instructional methods. For example, recently during these meetings we reviewed students’ writing, charted units of study, and defined instructional objectives. In the Beginnings grades we have been discussing the best ways to document and track student learning, how to use the documentation to inform instruction, and how to best share this documentation with parents.
Each special area teacher and I meet every other week to do the same kinds of curriculum work and tracking of student progress. Additionally, special area teachers meet monthly as a group and meet monthly with all of the members of their department from all three divisions of the school (Lower, Middle, and Upper). One recent topic during a special area meeting focused on teacher language, more specifically reinforcing language. Reinforcing language names for students what they are doing well, whether in the social or academic realm. This kind of language is vitally important in helping children grow because children build on their strengths, not their weaknesses.
Building a Seamless Multi-Year Curriculum
For classroom teachers, not only do they meet with me weekly, they frequently meet with each other, and meet monthly in “units.” Teachers in grades Preschool–Prekindergarten form our early childhood unit and teachers in grades Kindergarten-4 form our primary unit. The focus of these meetings is heavy duty curriculum work: discussing and fine-tuning core curriculum, analyzing student work/test scores, and exploring new programs and pedagogy.
Monthly Lower School faculty meetings bring all classroom and special area teachers together. After a few snacks and a brief bit of socializing, we spend our time exploring a wide variety of topics including new technology (like new library databases), reflecting on the culture of Lower School and our implementation of Quaker Values (like how to use mindfulness practices in the classroom), refining or redesigning special events, and exploring topics related to diversity and equity (recently focusing on gender and sexuality diversity). Our meetings close with a few announcements and an opportunity to bond as a group by sharing personal or professional celebrations and milestones.
I hope this glimpse into the meeting life of our teachers illustrates what deeply committed professionals they are and how thoughtfully and collaboratively they craft an excellent educational experience for your children.
Kelly Banik has served as the Lower School Director at Moorestown Friends School since 2005 and oversees Preschool – Grade 4. In addition to her administrative work, Kelly has taught at the elementary, middle, undergraduate, and graduate levels. For over 20 years she has worked with educators on topics including curriculum design/mapping, instructional methods, classroom management, and professional growth. She has completed all coursework for a Ph.D. from the University of Delaware, has an M.A. in Cognition and Instruction from the University of Delaware, and has a B.A. from Drew University. For more information, see her bio here.
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