Make Time, Do Everything, Be Surprised

The NYCDOE School Year Calendar states clearly that twice a year, “students in all five boroughs will not be in attendance, but schools in all five boroughs will be scheduled for a Chancellor’s Conference Day for staff development related to the Regents High Learning Standards and Assessments.” What does that mean? In two words: Professional Development.

It also means that on a given day each semester, public school teachers from across the city are looking for professional development opportunities. Museums have always been resources for educators, and lately we’ve seen a LOT of interest from schools in teacher training here at the Rubin. On evaluations, teachers often remark on our museum’s approach to slowing down and engaging with one or two works of art deeply. Consequently, we’ve started explicitly grounding some of our PD offerings to concepts like inquiry-based learning, fostering curiosity, and mindfulness.

In fact, we’ve started offering thematic open-enrollment workshops so that teachers whose schools might not be able or willing to send them here can join a workshop individually. We continue to offer workshop packages to schools that book them for their entire staff. We also collaborate with educational organizations like CALTA21 to co-facilitate professional development programs.

On June 7th, we did all three things at once.

It was an all-hands-on-deck day; most of the Education Department was involved in some way. The day was amazing and overwhelming, inspiring and frazzling, exhilarating and exhausting. It felt like we made time to do everything. I was proud of all we accomplished, even as I felt the need regroup. 

We’ll be thinking about post-workshop surveymonkey feedback from participants over the next weeks, but I thought I’d share a few interesting responses from teachers to the question, “What surprised you about your experience?”

“A group of teachers from the same school were there and I thought this was a nice bonding exercise. Afterward, they could share their different experiences and deepen and/or expand what they learned. Usually I think it’s good for teachers to attend different workshops and then return with info to share to kind of “cross-fertilize,” so this presented another view of a school PD strategy.”

“All of it! Left me inspired and wanting to know more.”

“I was surprised how much the attending teachers could contribute to the workshop; it made me realize that an effective form of education is letting students make their own investigations and share their observations.”

“Activities were simple but with rich contents that can be adapted for various subject focuses.”

“That a breathing mediation began each activity. I have always believed that my students should start the day with this daily practice. Perhaps before I retire this may happen. It is something every child can do, there is no competition just breathing. Simple perfection.”

“How my colleagues were able to suspend being “grown ups” and use their inquiry skills without preconceived judgments.”


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