Teacher Voice, Teacher Choice: Professional Development Redefined

“Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.” - Daniel H. Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Personalized instruction at Scheck Hillel took on new meaning this year, as teachers pursued professional development focused on their individual interests and aligned with school priorities. Robin Rimon, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Kindergarten-Grade 5, explained that this teacher-centered approach to PD mirrors personalized learning in the classroom, where teachers consider students' interests and needs to design instruction.  
Working individually and in groups, Kindergarten-5 teachers focused on topics such as Project-Based Learning (PBL), Mindfulness Training, Blended Learning, Conscious Discipline, iTaLAM, Executive Functioning, Student-Led Conferences, ESOL Teacher Toolbox and more. Teachers moved from research to practice by applying new learning in their classrooms: Grade 1 teacher Cheryl Cooper applied PBL, using student interest in the Winter Olympics; she helped them explore the character traits of athletes and write their own stories. Grade 5 Judaic Studies and Hebrew Language teacher Yonit Rejtman used "Thinking Hats" to help students generate thoughtful questions and ideas by adopting varied points of view. 
On May 29, teachers displayed their projects in a Professional Development Showcase, where they shared outcomes with colleagues schoolwide. According to Chief Academic Officer Craig Carpentieri, this is the next iteration of professional development: giving teachers freedom to self-select areas for growth and to design their own learning paths to mastery. As Daniel Pink suggests in the quote above, this will lead to better teaching and learning.