8/23/07: Professional Development
Posted August 23, 2007
Many SDS faculty and staff spend part of the summer on professional development trips. Such trips are an enjoyable and important way that SDS faculty and staff keep abreast of new developments, hone their skills as teachers, and increase subject-matter knowledge. Professional development is one of the cornerstones to excellence in education. A stated goal of the ongoing $20 million Capital Campaign is to increase the money available for professional development opportunities.
Over the next few weeks you will be able to learn about what some of the faculty did this past summer. To begin, Upper School French teacher, Margaret Howie, gives an account of her summer.
On June 2, I left for Louisville, Kentucky to grade AP French exams. Although I have taught AP French for many years, this was my first time as a grader. Frankly, the thought of grading more papers just after finishing final exams had never been that appealing to me. I have friends at other schools who grade the AP US History and AP Calculus exams every year, though, and they convinced me to give it a try. I had no idea what to expect. I just knew that I would get to speak French and that I would be paid so I was game. It turned out to be one of the best professional development opportunities of my career. I learned a lot about the content of the exam and got ideas about how to improve my students’ scores by grading nonstop from 8:30-5:30 every day for six days. Fortunately, I was one of the cassette graders so I did not have to stare at bad handwriting all day. Instead, I sat at a table wearing headphones and listened to students speak all day. There were lots of funny moments, but the day was still pretty long. I think that they said that we graded 22,000 tapes. My colleagues were college professors for the most part. In fact, I was one of only two high school teachers from South Carolina to participate this year.
When I returned from Louisville, I had a few weeks at home before I headed to Montreal, Canada where I took two three-week French courses. One was an advanced language class that gave me the opportunity to sharpen my own language skills and the other was a preparatory course for the TFI (Test de Français International) a very challenging standardized test that we took at the end of the course. (I have not yet received my score!)
I had visited Montreal several times before this trip, but I really fell in love with it this time. It is a beautiful, safe, friendly, inexpensive place to live. I walked everywhere, and feel like I know the city better than ever. I can’t wait to take my students there again this year during Special Studies Week.