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Teaching teachers

Sunday, Apr 01, 2018

faculty, professional development, Mind, Brain, and Education, Teachers

Leading a classroom of students is commonplace for teachers. It's where they are most comfortable and is expected in their role. But when teachers become teachers for their peers, the environment changes.

This is exactly what is going to happen at Breck on Monday. Faculty fellows from the Peter Clark Center for Mind, Brain, and Education are facilitating a new workshop for all Breck faculty members in the neurodevelopmental framework called Teaching for All Kinds of Minds (TAKOM).

Six faculty fellows along with center director Daisy Pellant and center coordinator Sarah Flotten '85 spent the last four days of spring break training to become facilitators in the TAKOM framework, allowing them to not only train the whole Breck faculty next week but also faculty members from other schools who are working to bring the framework into their classrooms.

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"It's a little overwhelming," says Sebastien Saunoi-Sandren, World Languages Department Head. "There's a lot of information and you can't be a master of it all so we just take it step by step. We're learning how to facilitate using the content we'll be using with our teachers next week and believing we are going to do it because teaching your peers is intimidating."

The fellows participated in the Facilitator Development Academy led by Q.E.D., a nonprofit organization that provides training, coaching, consulting, and resources in support of competency-based learning systems and practices. The fellows were joined by other faculty members from the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning (CTTL) at St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Potomac, MD, who are also seeking the certification. The PCC and CTTL are the only two of their kind in the nation (that we know of!) focused on the emerging field of Mind, Brain, and Education (MBE) science that bridges research in the fields of education, neuroscience, and psychology to the classroom.

Throughout the fall and winter, Breck faculty read the book Teaching for All Kinds of Minds, which explained the strategies and tools that will be reinforced during this week's training. The goal is to aid faculty members in their own self-reflection in the classroom and equip them with tools to better understand their students' learning styles. It also gives Breck teachers a common base when sharing best practices from the classroom and provides teachers with the skills to share this understanding of learning with their students --  moving Breck and the PCC toward the goal of all students being metacognitive, self-knowledgeable, and self-advocating learners for life.

"It's going to bring common language for us to talk with and about our students' learning experiences," explains Carolina Olaya, Upper School World Languages instructor. "It gives us a common framework of understanding of how the work of MBE plays a role in our classrooms. Faculty will be exposed to the theories and will hopefully use the language to help us be more effective and efficient and create better learners."

As the only school in the region to both have facilitators and have 100 percent of our faculty trained, this work also positions Breck nationally as a center for continued outreach.

"This is going to not only provide a core team of trained facilitators at Breck to sustain our work and keep 100 percent of our faculty trained, it also allows us to provide this kind of training for other schools who are considering this," says Pellant. "We will be the only training center in the Midwest."

Breck faculty return to campus Monday to begin the training. To follow along, find us on Twitter @BreckSchool.