One of the bonuses of working at Fenn is the opportunity to take advantage of professional development. In my six years of working here, I have been given many opportunities to explore interests and pursue professional passions due to the monetary support I receive from Fenn and the collegial support I receive from my colleagues--who are asked to cover my classes and assume my school responsibilities while I am away learning. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to attend national conferences out of state such as the National Council of Teachers of English Conference last year in Boston and the year before that in Las Vegas. In addition, I have attended many one day workshops. One described how to better understand brain development and executive function, while others have enabled me the opportunity to hear respected and noted teaching professionals in the field of English instruction such as Penny Kittle and Kylene Beers. And just this year I have had the opportunity to attend the national ERB conference in Boston as well as the Ed Tech Teacher conference where I and other colleagues learned about ways to integrate technology into our teaching practices. Fenn understands the benefit of its teachers staying abreast of educational topics and philosophies. The leaders of the institution recognize the value of professional development and by giving us the opportunity to seek out conferences and the time and support to attend them, they are helping us improve upon what we do while simultaneously creating a culture of learning and development at Fenn.
In addition to these opportunities, Fenn also values in house professional opportunities. These may take the form of outside professionals coming to campus or in house professional development opportunities such as professional days where faculty take the lead and learn from one another through large group discussion or faculty led tutorials. Here faculty share what they are doing in their respective classrooms with other faculty and even at times with faculty from other independent schools. Recently, Fenn expanded its in house professional development by offering monthly Learning Lunches. At these lunches, faculty meet to discuss a topic after reading articles on it or watching videos. Our first Learning Lunch is on the topic of grit and during it faculty will explore Duckworth’s research on this topic as well as Alfie Kohn’s. Again, these gatherings are intended as another way for faculty to engage in educational issues and topics and develop further the best practices we need to meet the needs of the students we teach.
It is such a treat to be able to work at a school that understands the value of professional development. Through encouragement and support, I have been able to pursue my professional interests, bring them back to Fenn, and apply them to my classes. My take-aways have, without a doubt, made me a better teacher and connected me with other teaching professionals. I know that if I have an interest, Fenn will support it and allow me to pursue it. For that, I am lucky and grateful, and I want to thank everyone who has pushed me to continue my own learning and to see what is out there beyond my own classroom walls. So, as I write this, I set my sights on future conferences, discussions, and inquiries with colleagues and professionals, and I encourage all teachers to take advantage of the many wonderful opportunities to explore, learn, and grow.
*To read more about Fenn Faculty presenting a recent Professional Development Conferences, read this recent news article.
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