I am sitting in my office watching our athletes stretching on the quad in anticipation of their preseason practices. They look tired, happy, nervous, confident, awkward, natural--all the things you would expect from teenagers making the transition from summer to the start of the school year. Yesterday I joked with them that the faculty and I had spent the summer playing frisbee on the quad, having Nerf wars in the dormitories, and generally sitting around waiting for them to return.
The truth is, however, our faculty has been working extremely hard in preparation for the school year. Think of the training and preparation one might need to teach four classes, coach two sports, work as an advisor to five young people, put on a school play, serve as a dormitory parent, take kids into the wilderness for three days, drive a bus to the mall, and on and on and on! We have spent two weeks with our wonderful new faculty members and then five days with our returning faculty building curricula, learning CPR and wilderness first aid, talking about the lessons we want our students to learn outside of the classroom, and the logistics involved keeping students safe and happy for a school year.
We were fortunate to have a special professional development session dedicated to looking at how our students learn and what to do when they struggle in certain areas of their education. Dr. Ellen Braaten, Dr. Sarah McMillan and Mr. Don McMillan presented their findings and led engrossing discussions with our faculty over the course of an afternoon. Dr. Braaten took us through a list of common learning disorders and various strategies educators use to support students who have these diagnoses. Dr. McMillan led a discussion about how to start with our students' strengths and build up their confidence through the creation of effective assignments. Mr. McMillan talked to us about how we as educators often create syllabi that reflect our own learning styles and urged us to consider developing assignments for all of our learners. We had fun performing activities that gave us insight into our own learning styles. It was a fabulous professional development and left us all excited to get into the classroom with our students.