On Monday, the faculty and staff of DCD convened on campus for a day of professional development. Breaking away from the typical expectations of back-to-back administrative meetings, this day was instead conceived as something starkly different: a chance for teachers to step back into the role of their students and put our school motto into practice. For the full day on campus, learning truly was a way of life.
After breakfast, the group convened in the Valentine Center to take in a presentation from DEI Director Ivy Alphonse-Crean and Head of Lower School Carla Haith. Entitled “Moving from Allyship to Co-Conspirator,” this workshop had been finely tuned from previous presentations at the People of Color Conference and the Carney Sandoe Women’s Institute earlier in the year, and now DCD faculty and staff were able to explore this important, challenging step into action together.
After a break, the group dispersed throughout the school to attend their first workshop of the day, maybe even sitting in the same desks as their students, seeing their own classrooms from a very different perspective. These workshops were led by administrators, teachers, and staff, and covered a wide range of topics and questions. Some classes explored important, topical issues of contemporary teaching, such as a meeting to discuss the book Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention and How to Think Deeply Again, a course of Media Literacy, and another on STEM tools and practices in the classroom.
Other classes explored questions of health and well-being in and out of the classroom, such as a course offered on middle-school happiness and stress management, an exploration of games and team-building, a crash-course in organization, an examination on the science of gathering, and a study of conflict-management in difficult conversations.
Still others offered faculty and staff the chance to explore a new interest, guided by the expertise of their peers, all the while building community and camaraderie— and remembering what it’s like to be a student learning a new skill. These fun (and challenging) classes included introductions to pickleball, knitting, ceramics, sonnets, and investing. No matter what workshops they chose, the attendees found themselves exploring new intellectual, physical, and social pursuits, and strengthening their relationships with their peers.
After a group lunch in the Lawrence Room, it was time for the second workshop, and then before long the day was drawing to a close. The entire DCD staff shared a final gathering over food and community, before packing up their notes (and maybe their new ceramic pots) and heading home to allow all the ideas and experiences of the day to soak in, refreshed and reinvigorated.
Our motto, Learning Is a Way of Life, is reflected not only in the way we conduct our classes, coach our athletes, and guide our artists— it is manifest in the ways in which our teachers, administrators, and staff look to live their own lives, continue in their own learning through professional development, and work to draw closer as colleagues and friends throughout each day.