We know how it goes, you see “No School – Teacher Work Day” on the calendar and you think, “Aaaack! Gotta find care for my kids!” It can be stressful, and they can make for long days for your family and us as well. So what really goes on during teacher work days? We thought we’d give you a behind the scenes look and what we do and why.
Every year we are required by the State of Colorado to complete 15 hours of professional development (PD) training. This is something our licensing inspectors check every year during our inspections, and they are getting pickier and picker about it. 15 hours is not a small chunk of extra time to squeeze in the school year, and finding meaningful PD opportunities can be challenging. We could meet this requirement though a variety of trainings such as online courses, early childhood conventions, evening continuing ed classes or talks, or outside specialists. We could complete these hours during our free time, after hours, or on weekends – and some schools require this of their staff.
For a number of reasons we choose to hold three Teacher Work Days a year to fulfill our PD requirement. Our staff is the heart of our school – and we feel that in order to be able to teach and guide as a team it is imperative that we learn and grow as a team. Working at school without the children affords us the time to connect as a staff, slow down, reflect, and grow. This is the time where new ideas are born, and old ways are challenged, and new insights about the children and their learning are uncovered. And just as everything we do for the children in our classroom has purpose and meaning behind it, the same holds true for our own learning. We feel it is important to bring in relevant, meaningful and inspiring specialists to help us grow. It most certainly aids our development as professionals.
In past years we have refined and re-ignited our Montessori craft with the help of P. Donohue Shortridge. We learned how to better support the needs of children who are struggling with sensory, speech, focus, or physical development issues. This year we decided to focus on learning about Brain Gym – how moving with intention leads optimal learning. We’ve implemented this in our classroom and are seeing some amazing things happen! Ask your children about brain buttons, or belly breathing!
During teacher work days we also have time to make some new materials for our classroom. Here are a few we made that the children are already enjoying!
These are some simple addition cards and manipulatives.
This is fraction cutting.
These are emotion cards.
For us Teacher work days are busy and long. And for you they may cause stress or break the routine. Our hope is that in the end, all we are learning and doing is trickling down to all the little ones we care for, and if that is happening then we think it is a win for everyone.