Professional Learning

KLSD educators explore small group reading instruction, cultivating empathy and using tech tools at Professional Learning Day

John Jay High School turned into a conference center on Tuesday, February 18—instead of teens milling in and out of the classrooms, Katonah-Lewisboro’s teachers and administrators filled them for day of professional learning. In sessions led by in-house experts as well as a few outside thought leaders, educators honed their skills in teaching core content areas and expanded their knowledge in the district’s priorities of sustainability, social-emotional learning and a purposeful use of technology.

“We developed the day of professional learning to provide our faculty with many different options to support their learning around the district’s goals,” said Mary Ford, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. “It provides an opportunity for educators to engage in discourse with colleagues and make choices that meet our needs.”  

Educators Support Learning Around District Goals

The day began with a choice of four keynote presentations, including one with Sherie McClam, PhD, program director of Manhattanville College’s Education for Sustainability certificate program. She offered a framework for teachers to integrate principles of sustainability into curriculum, regardless of the specific subject they teach.

Later that morning, educators could choose from approximately twenty options, including Boston-based Allison Posey’s visit via webcam—an introductory workshop on Universal Design for Learning (UDL), a framework that is focused on designing learning environments that support all learners. The next session offered an additional two dozen choices including conversations on small group reading instruction, cultivating empathy in the ELA classroom and using tech tools like Pear Deck to provide a more interactive experience for students.

Step into some of the classes

Professional Learning Invigorates Teaching

In between sessions, teachers grouped around the coffee station in the hallway. Many chatted about the keynote presentation by Stephanie Marquesano, president of the Harris Project—a program she founded after the death of her 19-year-old son due to the combination of mental health challenges and substance misuse. “The session was another reminder of just how important it is that we are mindful of our students' emotional well-being,” said high school teacher Charles Morales-Thomason.  “A child's mental health cannot be assessed by their outward appearance, so it is important for teachers and parents to create an environment where students feel comfortable talking about their feelings.”

“It’s incredibly important for our colleagues to have opportunities like professional learning days to engage with one another and with thinkers from outside KLSD,” said Superintendent Andrew Selesnick. “I’m always so impressed by the thoughtfulness and enthusiasm everyone brings to these days.”