Five Eaglebrook faculty members attended the annual The Association of Boarding Schools, conference or TABS, held November 29th through December 1st at the JW Marriott in Washington, DC. Joe Elias, Chair of the Math Department, and Caitlin Barker, a member of the English Department presented at the conference. Paige Jernigan P16 and P17 and Trustee also presented an exhibit with Sherry Liu P18.
Mr. Elias’s workshop was titled, “360 Faculty Evaluations”. He discussed how to motivate teachers to recognize their strengths and encourage them to grow. The focus of the presentation was that the thoughtful evaluation process is not to judge but to build teachers with confidence and inspire. Mr. Elias explained, “The process begins with teachers recognizing their own guiding principles, which then leads them to set yearly teaching goals. The evaluator focuses in on the teachers own goals to foster a proactive intercollege communication that is ongoing throughout the year:” In many ways, “ this is a coaching strategy whereby goals are referenced in order for the teacher to be self-reflective” he explained.
Mrs. Barker also presented what was called a speed session. Her session was held in a big ballroom were 20 other speed sessions were running simultaneously. The attendees decided what they wanted to attend and sat at the specific table. There were four rounds and each round lasted for 15 minutes. Mrs. Barker's presentation was an overview of the Adult Learning Theory, which is a theory about how adults learn best and the factors that can impact their learning. Mrs. Barker then went through each of the six aspects of adult learners and she prompted reflective questions, which focused on how the aspect might impact their professional development programs. She said, “The hope was that school leaders could consider how they currently run their professional development programs and if it aligns with the theory about what works for adults”. She goes on to say, “creating a positive culture of professional development can be difficult, so I wanted to present on this topic to help others think about ways they could better serve their faculty. Helping faculty and creating meaningful professional development is an interest and passion of mine I hope to pursue in the future.”
The conference was high-spirited according to those who attended. The attendees were able to listen to a wide variety of presentations. Mr. Elias attended three distinct workshops including “Smartphone Use in School”, “Vaping in School,” and the third was “Social and Emotional Learning and Increased Need for Understanding.” The Dean of Students from Saint Andrews discussed a variety of modern smartphone statistics and coping strategies. The speaker was attuned to the various concerns schools are currently facing. According to Mr. Elias, “There was lots of sharing of concern from schools across North America”. The Dean of Students at Worcester Academy discussed vaping in schools. She shared statistical insights and discussed the social pressure to have a vaping device and how a large majority of adolescents are becoming dependent on the intake of nicotine. Another workshop was presented by a psychoneurological and counselor from a school in Vancouver, BC. She discussed social and emotional learning and the increased need for understanding. More students are having earlier signs of depression, anxiety, and stress. With technology, it is so easy to see and observe trauma around the world. Mr. Elias summed it up perfectly saying, “The filter is off for protecting youth from harmful media reports.” Luckily, the speaker was able to share many great resources and strategies to support students in this era.
Eaglebrook faculty participate in a wide variety of professional development activities, many of which take place on campus, because, as a junior boarding school our needs and interests for professional growth can be somewhat unique. Paul Cyr-Mutty mentioned, “It is also important for our faculty to engage with learning in broader communities of educators so we are able to appreciate and learn of new ideas and approaches, as well as share some of our own learning with these larger groups”. He goes on to say, “sending faculty to a national conference such as The Association of Boardings School's conference in Washington DC, helps all of us to broaden the scope of our learning as well as share what we have learned with them”.