King's ability to guide students to their personal best relies heavily on our expert Faculty. We are deeply committed to maintaining the level of excellence that enables Faculty to serve as champions for and mentors to our students. Faculty development is central to our ability to deliver on this promise.
Thanks in large part to our Annual Fund, which is generously supported by the King community, King is able to offer a comprehensive, systematic approach to Professional Growth and Development (PG&D). The PG&D program enables Faculty to stay up-to-date on new research and best practices, hone their practices as teachers, and attend top conferences and workshops. Our teachers bring all that they learn back to King by incorporating the new knowledge into their classroom lessons for students, sharing best practices with their colleagues, and even creating whole new course options based on their PG&D experiences.
Each Faculty member attends at least two PG&D programs per year in addition to ongoing training year round. Here are some of the ways the Annual Fund supports our Faculty development and advances the School's Mission:
- Five teachers participated in STEM conferences led by Yale, Google, the National Science Teachers Association, and the Advanced Placement reader for AP Computer Science and Digital Application Exam.
- In the area of reading and writing, all Lower School Homeroom Faculty attended Reading and Writing Workshop, with other LS Faculty attending Columbia University Teachers College and The Reading Institute. Additionally, Faculty attended Social Justice intensive and the Bicentenary Symposium on Byron.
- Four King Faculty participated in summer Sabbaticals in places as far reaching as Ireland and Argentina.
- The entire MS and US Faculty have access to our in-house Department of Teaching and Learning throughout the year, which includes 9 supportive Critical Friends Groups for the US and 5 supportive groups for the MS, among other teacher support and development programs.
- King has an ongoing "Food for Thought" series on-campus featuring expert speakers and opportunities for Faculty to have an ongoing dialogue on best practices.
Here is how three Faculty members describe how they are sharing the best practices and excitement from their PG&D program with their students:
READING AND WRITING
LS Faculty Lori McNulty attended the Units of Study-Reading Workshop at Columbia University Teachers College this Summer where she participated in intensive classes led by Lucy Calkin, founding Director of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. There Mrs. McNulty learned to build foundational reading skills and strategies so students are able to read carefully, write clearly, think critically, and communicate their ideas with peers. With a focus on teaching points, minilessons, conferences, and small-group work needed to teach a comprehensive workshop curriculum, Mrs. McNulty developed state-of-the-art methods to set students on trajectories of growth.
"We really dove into strategies for how to increase the Grade 2 stamina for reading," Mrs. McNulty said. "These new teaching tools allow me to engage students by giving them a lot more control over what they are reading. They now choose their books based on their skill level and their interests. Students also set goals for themselves regarding time, fluency, and vocabulary. With these new tools I am able to teach students how to navigate challenges such as unfamiliar words so they find solutions on their own and can keep reading. They have the skills necessary to read, comprehend, and retain information. As a result, I see the students reading more than I ever have. This workshop was crucial to my being able to successfully implement this King curriculum, and I am a much better teacher as a result."
King encourages students to become lifelong readers and Mrs. McNulty said the Teachers College workshop really enabled her to do this. "One of the big reasons I got into teaching was because my own kids were coming home complaining about how many books they had to read. I love books and literature and I wanted kids to see that books are amazing and can be so much fun. That's exactly what this program does, which makes it so exciting and so rewarding."
History Faculty and Grade 9 Dean, Patrick O'Neill, traveled to Ireland, as a recipient of the McDermott Award, where he gathered material central to his new elective: Modern Ireland: Nationalism, Radicalism and Violence From 1641-Present. Mr. O'Neill studied the role of murals as modes of communication between opposing sides of the conflict in Northern Ireland after the War of Independence in 1921. Both the Irish Republican Army, primarily Catholics, and local loyalists groups, dominated by Protestants, used murals on the sides of homes and businesses to mark the boundaries of their control. "These became historical markers to proclaim and preserve local understandings of the conflict," he said. "Heros and key flashpoints were mythologized in order to reinforce communal support. Although the conflict ended in 1998, both sides continue to use murals as storyboards to critique the current political climate in Northern Ireland."
Mr. O'Neill's class will allow students to study these murals and assess the way in which opinions changed over time. In addition, students are going to simulate the construction of their own mural. "When these communities create these murals, they are making conscious decisions about what they want inside each mural. They need to gather as a community to construct those ideas," he said. "There is an active collaboration. There is an active discussion. I want my students to simulate the same exact thing."
To top it off, the mural created by the King students will hang inside Ireland's Great Hunger Museum in Hamden. "Students are very motivated by this. They will have something on display that represents their conversations, that represents their views, so it's a very powerful project that I am looking forward to developing," Mr. O'Neill said.
Mr. O'Neill has enlisted the Art Department to help with logistics and process from the art standpoint. "Some of the students are nervous about the idea of art, but I teach them to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable, I assure them that we will give them the resources they need to realize their objectives."
Mr. O'Neill credits the generosity of the King parents in making this class a reality."The parents' generous contributions make it possible for me to go to a place like Ireland and to bring this back to the classroom, which I know my students will benefit from."
Michelle Sibrizzi, Science Faculty and Grade 7 Team Leader, attended the National Science Teachers Association Conference where she participated in intensive classes, collaborated with fellow teachers and developed ideas on how to best engage students in labs. Ms. Sibrizzi attended lessons led by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the organization at the fore of creating a set of research-based, up-to-date, K–12 science standards. These standards give educators the flexibility to design classroom learning experiences stimulating students' interests in science. During these workshops, teachers play the part of students as experts model lessons. The NGSS instructors incorporate the latest science instruments to demonstrate how to best engage students utilizing lab tools.
"Participating in these workshop intensives gives me an edge in developing day-to-day lessons. These opportunities really allow me to optimize the tools I have in implementing our science curriculum," said Ms. Sibrizzi, who added that one of the best takeaways from the conference are lesson "hooks" to pulls students into the topic. "Engaging Grade 7 in some of the dryer topics such as genetics can be especially challenging. NGSS suggests ways to introduce a certain kind of phenomena to the students who then use the information they know to explain what they are seeing. Inevitably, they are drawn in as this process brings the subject matter to life."
Ms. Sibrizzi credits these development opportunities for her ability to bring cutting edge techniques into the labs where students learn to think like scientists. With this approach she is able to conduct project-based activities that teach students experimentation, data collection, analysis, report writing, and presentation skills.