The Power of Community Collaboration
Whole School Professional Development
Whole School Professional Development involves teachers and administrators in an in-depth look at the characteristics of powerful place-based education. When a school signs on for this level of support, it involves a 3 and ½ day introductory PD experience, which anchors teachers across the disciplines in a school-wide essential question for inquiry focused on community and Great Lakes issues. The following is the step-by step guide to this introduction to SEMIS:
Asset-Based Needs Assessment: Ethan Lowenstein and Rebecca Nielsen lead an inventory of skills in inquiry-based education and assessment, civic engagement processes and place-based programming already going on at your school to determine what your teachers bring to the SEMIS partnership model, and where you might need coaching to develop teachers interested in this approach. This is also where place-based education will be defined.
Discuss Strengths, Needs and Expectations: Following the inventory, Rebecca and Ethan will develop a list of strengths, areas for growth and expectations for a partnership with SEMIS, including the development of teams around content areas, leadership support at the school, and how to meet standards with the place-based education approach, plus outlining the PD experience SEMIS provides to partner schools.
Knowing Your School & Community: After assessing the educational landscape, SEMIS will help to define what the top concerns around place-based education are for the school’s community. From this discussion of environmental and social issues, an essential question will emerge that will be the focus of all teachers and administrators for the duration of the partnership with SEMIS. To create real change in the culture of the school and community, SEMIS suggests at least 3 years with the program, and 5 years for transformational and institutionalized changes in the school community.
Planning for the Future: After defining training needs and community needs, SEMIS staff will lead the teachers in a backwards-mapping approach to lesson planning. Rebecca and Ethan will start the coaching process with teams of teachers to show how they can use SEMIS resources (partnership grants, general support grants, leadership grants, curriculum support) to reach their standards goals, and enhance what they are already doing.
The Whole School Professional Development experience brings everyone together to gather support and integration of disciplines around a core stewardship question. With everyone on the same page, a school can enhance the success of any individual teacher efforts as part of a whole.