Over the last few years, a team of Baldwin educators has worked to affect change in our public educational system. We launched the “Instituto de Verano” (The Summer Institute) in 2014. Our formula for change has two parts: professional development for teachers and instructional interventions for students. We partner with a number of public elementary schools within the area, and invite both teachers and students from these institutions to participate.
We believe that education is the great equalizer. We are hereby resolved to act, to work to make a difference, because all kids deserve a fighting chance.
Purpose: The Baldwin School Summer Institute for Teachers was created to provide a professional development opportunity for local public school teachers. We seek to share teaching strategies based on constructivist learning theory, and, at the same time, achieve an exchange of ideas with other educators whose goal is the same as ours: to continually improve our teaching practice. We also seek to expand our network of educators currently teaching in Puerto Rico, thus creating a professional learning community (PLC) that explores ideas for the continuous development of our pedagogy.
The Summer Institute takes place in the month of June and is led by Baldwin's IB Coordinators. In preparation for the Institute, we presented a vision for the program to 8 local public schools, and distributed questionnaires to teachers. These teachers supplied information about the top three topics in which they wanted professional development, as well as demographic information including classes and levels they teach, and resources they currently use. The workshop was constructed based on the information they provided, thus creating a personalized professional development opportunity based on their needs and wants.
Methodology: Based on the topics suggested by the teachers, we created an interactive workshop that modeled the use of the Backwards By Design method of lesson planning as a guide. The topics included:
• Constructivist learning theory
• Summative and Formative Assessments
• Backwards planning/Understanding By Design
• The use of learning centers
• Teaching and learning strategies
Outcomes and Opportunities: The Summer Institute for Teachers is a dynamic, interactive, exploration of teaching, pedagogy, and the challenges that classroom teachers face each day. We receive 30-60 teachers from a variety of public schools, including teachers that participate more than one year. Teachers attending the Institute bring experience, open minds, and diverse perspectives in and environment of mutual respect.