By Dr. Gosnell & Mr. Robb
Teacher professional development is important because it helps teachers stay up-to-date with the latest educational research, teaching methods, and technologies. This ongoing training Powhatan provides can help teachers develop new skills and strategies that enhance their ability to educate and engage students, leading to better academic outcomes.
By investing in professional development, teachers can also stay current with changes in curriculum and instruction, which can help them adapt to the ever-changing educational landscape. As a result, students receive a high-quality education that meets their individual needs.
Moreover, professional development allows teachers to collaborate and learn from other educators, share best practices, and build a strong professional network. This can improve morale and job satisfaction, ultimately benefiting students.
Overall, the importance of teacher professional development cannot be overstated. When teachers are well-trained, knowledgeable, and engaged in their profession, they are better equipped to meet the diverse needs of their students, provide meaningful learning experiences, and create a positive and effective learning environment. Ultimately, this can lead to improved academic performance and increased student success opportunities.
This year the division directors worked in partnership to bring professional development to Powhatan catered to meet the areas of focus staff wanted to develop further. Our focus has been on literacy, numeracy, and technology integration into our Spanish classrooms. Staff who are not Language Arts, Math, or Spanish teachers submitted individual professional development goals that they worked on during our PD days.
Travis Crowder is a teacher, author, and presenter who worked with Language Arts staff to enhance student learning through a focus on quality reading and writing instruction. Staff had opportunities to share, learn, and collaborate with a focus on finding the next level to an already exceptional program.
From Ann Robb: Upper School English Teacher
Travis facilitated innovative, interactive, and hands-on language arts activities that we can incorporate into our instruction in order to help our students make personal connections while they read and write and to consider various perspectives as they discuss compelling ideas.
From Kelsi Bell: 5th Grade Teacher
Learning from Travis Crowder was a breath of fresh air, rooted in making time and space for kids to authentically experience and explore reading and writing in ways that return the investment tenfold.
From Jen Zuckerman: 4th Grade Teacher
“Travis Crowder is a true book lover and has the ability to put the right book in kids’ hands. He talks off the top of his head about so many different books and gives tons of book talks. He has so many different ideas about how to use literature in the classroom. In order to teach us, he had us do the work that he would have his students do. We spent the day writing and discussing, which led us to apply the principles and lesson ideas right away. We were able to understand the reasoning behind the pedagogy and gain a student’s perspective.”
Shelly Pine is an experienced math teacher and currently a math specialist for Prince William County. She has worked with our teachers on facilitating high-quality mathematical discourse in the classroom and strategies to build conceptual understanding and support procedural fluency.
From Julie Scheulen: Kindergarten Teacher
She has the knowledge but she has the real-world practice. She made it okay for you to have a personality.”
From Jackie Brondstater: Second Grade Teacher
“I like the warm-up activities that Shelly did across both professional development days. It was open response and we worked in teams which made me feel less pressure and I could see what someone else was doing. I felt the way my students might feel. I could do those activities with my students and make sure that it is not about pressure to come up with the right answer.”
From Tammy Lucas: Kindergarten Teacher
“Shelly is so enticing, you want to know more, you want to hear her ideas, your brain is thinking that actually probably would work.” – Tammy Lucas
From Jen Warren: Second Grade Teacher
“We were able to have a conversation as a faculty about pros and cons of math homework. We were able to have a good talk about strengths and weaknesses of our current program and where we can add and takeaway. The opportunity to have community discourse was positive.”
From Alyson Yoder: First Grade Teacher
“Shelly gave us real life math problems to take back to the kids. She helped us to be able to use what she taught to us in our classrooms immediately. She gave us all of these tools that we could immediately use in our classroom to make a difference, especially around promoting math discourse.”
Jim Daniels has over twenty years of experience teaching Spanish and leading World Language staff in several schools. Jim worked with our Spanish teachers to review our curriculum to ensure that students receive a deep and thorough understanding of Spanish while at Powhatan. In addition, he worked with Mrs. Wagner and Mrs. Keim to learn new ways to use technology to enhance instruction, engagement, and learning.
From Anchi Wagner: Spanish Teacher
I really enjoyed my time with Jim Daniels. Jim shared some excellent tips about strategies he uses in the classroom to have students interested and engaged. I have already started using a few of them, and it’s working really well.
From Pam Keim: Spanish Teacher
Jim’s instructional strategies were transformative, and I’m implementing them immediately. This was one of the best PD sessions I’ve experienced in my career.
Individual Professional Development Example:
As part of our professional development day, Robin Coutts went to visit St. Anne’s-Belfield School in Charlottesville to learn more about their approach to science instruction and outdoor education.
From Robin Coutts: Lower School Science Teacher and NEAL Coordinator
“It was helpful to see another program with a dedicated lower school science lab and learn additional strategies for outdoor education from their teacher who created their forest days. I had never seen a job quite like mine in action before, another teacher in the role of lower school science teacher with an outdoor focus. This collaborative experience was so helpful.”