Recent Press

KIPP summer professional development - Kim Townsend


               When the kids of Helena are enjoying their last month of summer vacation, KIPP teachers are learning how we can prepare ourselves and our schools for them in the best way possible.  Our professional development time involves classroom preparation, curriculum preparation, team building and teacher training.  New and old teachers get refresher courses in the school chants and procedures.   Yesterday we all sang Michael Jackson’s song “The Man in the Mirror” (appropriate for elementary and middle schools), followed by “Alexander Hamilton” from the Hamilton musical (more appropriate for high schoolers).  Tomorrow we’ll sing “Lean On Me” and do other chants.  These songs and chants are about behavior which we would love all of our teachers and students to internalize, also it’s always fun to sing in groups, right?!

               Our teacher training follows the same procedures that we expect from the KIPPster students.  We are greeted at the door by the instructor (Mr. Shirey), after we give a firm handshake and respond to his “Good Morning” and conversation, we move into the classroom and prepare ourselves.  We arrive on time with all our supplies.  If late, we make up the work before lunch.  If we arrive without supplies we need to make our own arrangements to fix this as soon as possible.  We are silent when the instructors are talking, or when another student has been invited to talk.   We track the speaker.  We put thought and effort into following the teachers training instructions.  We support teammates who need help.  Teachers return from their break times promptly, honoring their instructor’s teaching goals and our own time.  At lunch today 35 of us were able to silently get up from our seat in an orderly fashion, and completely clean up from lunch in under 3 minutes.  If we can do it, the kids can too!

               Other meetings have included introduction of the people who help run KIPP behind the scenes: our bus drivers; janitorial staff; Nurse Hull; food caterers; and the administrative staff at Central Office.  Through a fun exercise run by Ms. Mary Willingham, we learned about the importance of a person’s name and its origin.  By each of us explaining where our names came from to the group, we all introduced ourselves to the new teachers and administrators.   An extension of this was an exercise where we wrote a poem about where we came from.  These sorts of exercises reinforce to us the importance of our students’ names and their origins, and what it feels like to share this information with others who are interested.

Other training opportunities have included a two day intensive course on the Wheatley Curriculum we use; an eight day literacy workshop led by Dr. Duffy from Chicago, training in critical race theory and pedagogy with LaTrina Johnson and several other planned activities.

               Although it would be a lot of fun to be out enjoying the summer, it is also very satisfying to get organized ahead of time, hone our teaching skills, walk through our routines, decorate our classrooms and generally prepare for our students.  We look forward to seeing them all again August 9th and August 14th.

Kim Townsend is a social studies instructor at KIPP Delta Public Schools.







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