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Transformative Experiences for Teachers at ISL
By Chris Starr 06-Jan-16
In their essay entitled “What is the Goal of School Reform,” Professors Michael B. Katz and Mike Rose suggest that, “Enriched, widely available professional development would substitute a human development model for school reform rather than the current test-based technocratic one. And because such professional development would positively affect what teachers teach and how they teach it, there would be a more direct effect on student achievement.” Or, in simple terms, as International School of Luxembourg Teacher Norah O’ Riordan says, “I dragged myself into school at 8 am on Saturday morning last, asking myself the question ‘What was I thinking signing up for a two-day workshop on the weekend?’ I left at 5 pm on Sunday, energized by a workshop on Instructional Coaching that was both professionally and personally thought-provoking, life affirming, and transformative, facilitated by a composite expert who was supremely knowledgeable, entertaining, and truly authentic.” The workshop to which Norah refers took place at the end of February in Luxembourg and was designed to teach decision makers in schools how to set up coaching programs for their faculty. Instructional Coaching is becoming widely adopted in schools as a proven strategy for building teacher expertise and improving student achievement. The ISL workshop was facilitated by Jim Knight, from the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. Participants learned what good instructional coaching programs look like in schools, and thanks to “hands-on” tasks, dialogue, reflection, and action planning, they returned to their schools ready to implement or improve programs that truly do impact the quality of student learning. The workshop was hosted at ISL and organized by Chapters International, a global provider of customized workshops, in-service training, and educational conferences to support the professional development of educators. It was attended by teachers and school leaders from 28 countries, including Brazil, Angola, and Korea. The workshop was also promoted locally by ISL to teachers and leaders in the state school system in Luxembourg. As ISL’s Upper School Assistant Principal for Teaching and Learning Nancy Lhoest-Squicciarini explains, “ISL has had the privilege to serve as host to a variety of guest experts. These workshops are open to teachers locally and internationally. Jim Knight rates among the best in terms of passion, expertise, and approachability. No educator can deny the impact that instructional coaching has on improving teacher practice and, consequently, student learning.” Ms. Lhoest-Squicciarini is championing these opportunities and establishing ISL and Luxembourg as a well-known destination for quality professional development for educators. She has been selected as the next chair of the European Council of International Schools Curriculum and Assessment Committee. The Instructional Coaching workshop came just a week before another outstanding offering when ISL hosted two additional events—the Atlas Rubicon Summit for International Curriculum Leaders and a less formal pre-conference “Job Alike” event that was free for attendees and allowed a day of dialogue, shared experience, best practices, and professional networking. The International School of Luxembourg’s Professional Development Committee approves professional development applications from teachers in order to ensure that they remain current in their field and continue to develop their own pedagogical skills as lifelong learners. Applications must be well-justified and the requestors must present a clear plan on how they will return to the school with new knowledge or skills that will ultimately benefit students and that they can share with their colleagues. By supporting professional development and bringing experts in education to Luxembourg, ISL is providing opportunities for teachers and educational leaders to participate in thought-provoking and transformative career experiences. The International School of Luxembourg is emerging as an active role-player in enriching the educational landscape, both in Luxembourg and globally.
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