Professional Development Enhances Educational Experience for Everyone

October 5, 2021 / Perspectives in Education/Middle School/All News

Jackson Academy invests in professional development throughout its academic divisions, inspiring and supporting teachers to explore innovative teaching methods and provide the priceless gifts of attention and compassion to their students. Sixth grade English teacher Mallory Gnemi was appointed to serve as the Middle School’s professional development coordinator for 2021-2022. In this blog post, she discusses the benefits of professional development and the Middle School’s focus on streamlining communication and strengthening community in the coming months.

What is professional development, and why does it matter? 

“Continuous personal and professional development is our key to the future. Professional development sessions are often done to teachers; rarely are these sessions planned with, for, and by teachers. Professional development is defined as ‘continuing education and learning for workers already in the workforce.’ The goal is to expand and deepen our skills as educators.”

How does professional development benefit students? 

“Professional development benefits students because the more we, as educators, stay engaged in the learning process, the better teachers we are for our students. We want them to see that we are lifelong learners. When we bring what we learn from professional development sessions back to the classroom, we build our expertise portfolio, which builds confidence in ourselves. I think students and parents can recognize and appreciate these qualities in their educators. At Jackson Academy, we want to cultivate a culture of continuous learning, understanding, and communication. If we are doing these things outside the classroom, imagine what we can continue to do inside the school with those sharpened skills. Students are our future; we must stay with them yet be prepared for them every step of the way.”

What are JA teachers doing for professional development this year?

“This year, the Middle School decided to focus on the theme of Communication and Community. Being a physically divided division on campus requires us to work extra hard to ensure our collaboration as a Middle School team with our entire school team. Our goal as a division was to create sessions planned with, for, and by our teachers this year. Each month, we invite a different faculty member from around campus to come to share with us their lessons learned, advice, and tips for communicating effectively within and beyond the Middle School. Our August guest was Head of School Palmer Kennedy, who offered his experience communicating with parents, students, and fellow teachers. In September, we heard from Beth Murray, director of differentiated learning, who guided us in recognizing learning differences and communicating those needs to support staff beyond the classroom. Teachers take notes, give input, and are encouraged to identify three significant takeaways from the sessions. Feedback from the teachers is how we create teacher engagement in the professional development process so that everyone’s voice is heard.

Watch for further updates posted on our blog as JA teachers progress through this year’s professional development program.