Goal 3: Teaching

Promote excellence in teaching by supporting faculty to develop and advance their professional practice.

Strategies

The student-teacher relationship is at the heart of Penn Charter. We will hold tight to this essential relationship -- even as we see a new vision for a 21st century teacher.

In Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World, educators advocate a shift in the teacher's role "from that of the information provider to one of a catalyst, model, coach, innovator, researcher, and collaborator with the learner throughout the process."

In a classroom open to the world and supported with technology, the teacher's role can be expanded beyond what it has been. To promote excellence in teaching, we will build a faculty of lifelong learners who collaborate with students in a process of continuing revelation and joyful learning.

And we will:

  • Refine faculty evaluation to better align with desired student outcomes, and encourage and reward innovation and leadership.
  • Support faculty professional development, including summer work, faculty mentors and leadership coaching.
  • Provide structured opportunities and ample time for the development of cross-divisional and interdisciplinary work as well as collaboration among teachers and between students and teachers.
  • Strengthen faculty use of technology to further excellence in teaching and learning.

Implementation Examaples

Teaching & Learning Center

In 2013, Penn Charter opened the Teaching & Learning Center (TLC) to support on-campus professional development for faculty and staff.

The TLC, located on the second floor of the Upper School library, is a accessible and flexible, offering lunch & learn sessions, after-school workshops, one-to-one sessions, Critical Friends Groups, class visits, online webinars, a partnership with neighboring Philadelphia University, and more.

Faculty are able to learn what they want, how they want, when they want. The center helps teachers advance their practice in six key areas: pedagogy, classroom life, enrichment, tech, diversity, and the arts.

View the TLC brochure.

VITAL

VITAL

Valuing Innovative Teaching and Learning (VITAL), provides faculty with substantial funding during the summer months to allow for the transformation of their craft through research, collaboration and innovation.

The ultimate goal of VITAL is to provide students with an outstanding, current and meaningful education.

Outcomes include:

Creating Music: Theory and Practice. A music teacher and physics teacher began a study of music theory and the physics behind the notes and tones of instruments. The teachers used 3D printing and laser cutters to construct instruments and laid the groundwork for student investigations of similar theories, ideas and methods.

Middle School Advisory Project. An intensive collaboration to create a succinct, meaningful and spiraling advisory program resulted in curriculum with lessons, queries and content that support the social, emotional, spiritual and intellectual growth of Middle School students.

Tilapia Aquaculture Project. With the installation of a 110-gallon tilapia tank and aquaculture system in their Middle School science classroom, two seventh grade science teachers created innovative curriculum for mathematics and science topics, including ecology, environmental science and biology.

Soaring to New Language Arts Heights. Faculty shared an intensive writing workshop experience to facilitate increased collaboration and cohesion across grades in the Lower School language arts program.

Content and Design. Art, science and technology teachers researched electronic publishing to support mastery learning and enhance student engagement in media-rich learning environments, resulting in two student-produced eBooks, The Philadelphia Bestiary and A Field Guide to Campus Trees.

View the VITAL brochure.

LS Professional Development

Lower School Professional Development

Beckie Miller, Lower School Math specialist, and Marcy Sosa, Language Arts specialist, conducted in-house professional development sessions multiple times throughout the year. Teachers collaborated to share best practices, identify an ideal curriculum sequence, and develop units of study. Richard Bisk, a Math in Focus expert, led an engaging in-service day workshop to support faculty with this new program.

Student Feedback Forms

Student Feedback Forms

In the 2015-2016 academic year, we launched new online Student Faculty Feedback Forms in Middle and Upper School.

The feedback form results and our improved yearly reflection process, which includes a Checklist for Excellence in Teaching, have improved the faculty evaluation process and resulted in better student-teacher relationships and greater collaboration and innovation in teaching.

Diversity Training

Diversity Training

Penn Charter hosted a powerful Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Conference on Oct. 6, 2017, for more than 1,200 independent school educators who wanted to dig in to learn and to build their skills for promoting equity in schools and classrooms.

Sponsored by the Multicultural Resource Center and the Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools, the all-day conference offered keynote presentations from two nationally known speakers — Mahzarin Banaji, experimentalist psychologist, Harvard professor and author, and Lee Mun Wah, filmmaker, author and diversity trainer.

The keynotes were designed to raise awareness about bias — “The thumbprint of the culture is on your brain,” Banaji told the crowd. — and the nearly 40 workshop offered teachers group sessions focused on relevant topics: Diversity through Literary Theory; The Guide for White Women who Teach Black Boys; Middle School Affinity Groups; Teaching Diversity and Inclusion in the Lower School Classroom through Art and Literature; Teaching the Immigrant Experience; and many more.

During the 2015-2016 academic year approximately 20 percent of faculty members took part in conferences and workshops that addressed topics of diversity such as racial identity development and white privilege.

Throughout the school year, Lisa Turner and Ruth Aichenbaum led an additional cohort of 12 faculty, parents and students in a Critical Friends Group and book discussion to explore the topic, Using Privilege for Social Equity.

Mindfulness

Even the youngest students engage in mindfulness practice at PC.

Semesters

The shift from a trimester to a semester format is designed to facilitate longer chunks of time for experiential, deep learning and create a healthier pace and balance.

Third Grade Wax Museum

Third grade teachers and students demonstrate how a wax museum project focused on Pennsylvania history has evolved in terms of focus, research techniques and performance.

Advanced Physics Bridge Project

Science teacher Tim Clarke and juniors Zoe Topaz and Josh Patton demonstrate how technology has changed a classic physics project.

Teaching & Learning Center

The TLC promotes excellence in teaching by providing faculty with accessible and meaningful professional development on our own campus.
Our plan for Penn Charter's future is organized around six goals, each with a set of strategies.


Prefer it in print? View and download this 24-page publication that explains the six goals of the Strategic Vision, the strategies to support those goals, and the themes and issues that inspired the Strategic Vision.

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