By Sue Kingman, Lower School Division Head
Carroll’s commitment to professional development sets us apart—and a new approach to Fridays transformed how our teachers learn.
When Steve returned to Carroll as Head of School, our goal was to create consistent professional development opportunities for our faculty, and to bring teachers together to learn.
We already had team time and some occasional community meetings and speakers on Fridays, but we made the shift to structure and prioritize that time in a completely different way.
Like our students, we aim to give each teacher what they most need. The biggest change over the last 10 years in how we approach professional development is to create a scenario where everybody feels like they're engaged in a program that's meaningful, that's helping them grow, and is being mindful that teachers are at different places in their careers.
Allison West, Middle School Division Head
In the beginning, we focused each year’s professional development on a topic, like Orton-Gillingham, executive functioning, social emotional learning, data-informed instruction, or diversity. Rather than a single professional development day dedicated to a topic, being dedicated to one topic for a year allowed teachers to truly practice and integrate training strategies into their teaching.
This helped us establish a culture of professional development that evolved into the current Carroll Courses: five year-long modules that teachers go through during their tenure at Carroll, designed to focus on how each Carroll teacher can enhance their practice to address the needs of each child.
The kind of teacher who opts to join the Carroll community comes with a growth mindset. They strive to learn new skills, and to customize their instruction—not just to “plug and play” every year and teach the same thing over and over again. There is a distinct joy and an intrinsic satisfaction in the hard work that comes with having to be as prepared as our teachers have to be.
As students progress, and as their confidence as learners grow, teachers can see the fruits of their labor—and find their true worth in seeing that progress.
There are all kinds of different ways we do professional development at Carroll. We get to hear these brilliant speakers that are experts in their fields, such as neuroscience, the science of reading, or diversity and equity. But then every Friday afternoon, we also have a variety of training opportunities, whether it’s collaborating with your coworkers, having a meaningful conversation about race, or getting trained on a core Carroll teaching approach.
Andrew Nimmer, Upper School Science Teacher
This article is part of a series from Carroll Connection, A Timeline for Transformation: 2005-2021.
- Carroll Connection 2021-22