Sharing Is Caring: Keystone Teachers Lead Workshops for Colleagues
The tumultuous events of the past two years have shown the value of community. Keystone Academy believes in the power of people helping each other to face and bounce back from these difficult times together, clearly highlighting the idea in the school’s recent spring Professional Growth (PG) Day on Mar 18.
Organized by the Keystone Dean of Faculty Office, the spring PG Day focused on the theme that “sharing is caring”, encouraging teachers and academic support staff to lead workshops and activities for their colleagues. Overall, there were over 30 educational workshops and 20 wellness activities led by teachers for over 250 faculty members.
However, Keystone’s idea of “sharing is caring” isn’t limited to a single day of activities; teachers are also supported throughout the year to attend external workshops to upskill themselves and develop teaching strategies to bring back and share with colleagues.
One example is Middle School Chinese Language and Literature Teacher, Zoe Zu who led a Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) Cycle workshop with colleague Erin Maguire, Middle School English Acquisition teacher and grade level leader. Ms. Zu learned about the PDSA Cycle learning tool from a Harvard online course she took called Certificate in Advanced Education Leadership (CAEL) which then, with the support of Mrs. Maguire, she was able to share with colleagues on PG Day.
Ensuring faculty and staff members have access to opportunities to learn is a key part of Keystone’s philosophy. Before the pandemic, teachers could apply for funding to attend workshops across China and abroad, with two teachers telling the Beijinger that they had previously joined a workshop in Singapore about 21st-century learning techniques.
Mrs. Maguire tells the Beijinger that she is “thankful that I can still pursue professional development and Keystone has been very supportive of that because Keystone wants us to continue growing — it’s how we get better.”
Even during the pandemic, Keystone has continuously encouraged teachers and staff to join external workshops by switching to a focus on supporting distance learning training sessions. Primary School Math and English teacher, Thomas Fassler talks about how “Keystone has been really good at bringing things to us despite the pandemic.”
He also shares a recent course on Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) he attended, where “the school took care of everything.” Mr. Fassler adds that teachers just need to show up at a specified time and tell the school the kind of professional growth support they need because “even during these difficult times, Keystone tries to deliver for its teachers.”
Keystone’s belief of “sharing is caring” also goes beyond just the sharing of knowledge in a professional sense from colleagues with many teachers telling the Beijinger how they also learn from students. Mr. Fassler explains how “Keystone has helped me change to a more student-centered classroom.” “It has been so meaningful to see the different way kids interact with me now,” Mr. Fassler adds. “It is about me meeting their needs and it has really taken the paradigm of teaching and switched it for me. Without Keystone, I don’t think I would have made that transformation.”
As a part of professional growth, wellness is also a big priority at Keystone. Middle School Visual Arts teacher, Suren Cao led a PG Day workshop on creating classical Chinese spring blossom ink painting and it was filled up within the first 30 minutes! She also tells us how a fellow teacher set up a dance group that meets every Tuesday.
Ms. Cao adds how working at Keystone has made her life broader and that it's the first school she has worked at that “really supports teacher wellness.” This is echoed by Primary School Math and English Teacher Terry Chi, who says that “when we say caring, it is also something about wellness. It is not just about physical health but also mental health.” Some of the other wellness sessions offered on the day were Zumba, archery, and yoga classes, as well as biking, walking, and book club conversations.
Keystone’s theme for this year is “We Grow as We Learn”. Secondary School Math Department Head Jason Roy tells the Beijinger how this mirrors what teachers want for students. “We want our students to grow as they learn. As adults, we need to do the same thing: we have to keep learning new things if we are going to stay apace with the world today,” Mr. Roy explains. And as Ms. Zu wisely notes, “learning is a never-ending road.”
Sharing and growing at Keystone is not limited to a single PG Day. It is part of the Keystone culture where both staff and students can develop together and learn from and for the world.
Images courtesy of Keystone Academy