Professional development is essential for teachers, but it’s particularly valued at OneSchool Global. This worldwide network of independent schools has established a Teacher Academy – an internal organisation that supports teachers, provides training and facilitates networking and collaboration for all of its members.
We asked Courtney Avangelista, the North America Director at the Teacher Academy, to take us behind-the-scenes and shine a spotlight on some of the Academy’s recent activities.
Supporting New Teachers
As a teacher, starting a new job can be overwhelming. Adapting to a new environment while navigating unfamiliar procedures is a challenge, as is getting to know the students, parents and staff who make up a bustling school community. To remedy this, new teachers at OneSchool Global participate in a globally consistent induction program which begins with two days of observation and orientation.
“The Teacher Academy oversees the rollout of this induction and makes sure that new staff are getting acclimated to their role and campus. Our goal is that staff feel well supported and can integrate into the culture rather than being thrown into the classroom unprepared,” Courtney explains.
New staff are paired with a veteran teacher who acts as their mentor and guide throughout their first year working at OSG. An initiative that is well received by new teachers like Meghan Nelson, from the Portland, Oregon Campus.
“The mentor initiative is great. It was made clear that there would be someone to reach out to whenever we might need assistance. The mentor program is proof of that. I appreciate the availability of the Teacher Academy and others that have made me feel welcome at OSG.”
“In addition, we have a fully built Canvas Induction course for new staff to complete during their first year of employment,” Courtney adds. “We realise that a new position at any school can be overwhelming and that’s why we break our induction program into manageable pieces for staff to cover over an extended period of time.”
Planning and Hosting Professional Development Sessions
Each school year, the Teacher Academy programs at least three to four full days of professional learning for all OneSchool Global staff. Sessions include Best Zoom Practices, Using MAP Data to Differentiate and How the Learning to Learn Framework Relates to the Real World. Staff are invited to collaborate during these sessions. They can also sign up to host Professional Learning sessions for particular areas of expertise and interest, allowing teachers to engage in their own lifelong learning.
“At OSG, we recognise the importance of face-to-face collaboration. We also use Zoom to bring staff together and foster collaboration,” Courtney shares. “In a twenty-first century world, it’s not enough to teach our students they need to work with peers from across the globe – we believe our teachers need to be modeling this as well. Teachers and students both win when there’s effective collaboration towards a shared vision.”
Optimising Student Assignments
“We recently hosted the Assignment Design series for our Secondary Caribbean staff. It began over Zoom and then we brought each of these teachers to Toronto to work face-to-face,” Courtney reveals. “The staff came together to discuss how we can better align teaching in the Caribbean campuses to OneSchool Global’s Learning to Learn Framework. We also discussed challenges to student achievement and looked at successful case studies from other regions.”
This event was a huge success, with teachers in the Caribbean region learning a variety of new teaching methods and content-delivery strategies.
“All of the presentations were informative and invigorating. But my favourite piece of the conference was in “in-between” encounters I had with staff I have never connected with before. It has further solidified my desire to be the best I can be,” said teacher Mark McHaley, from the Chicago, Illinois Campus.
“The key takeaway from this event was that OSG”s Learning to Learn Framework not only works but works well. Previously, our Caribbean campuses had a culture of ‘testing first’ which caused teachers to feel pressured to rely on traditional teacher-centred methods,” Courtney said. “However, after collaborating with other regions, our teachers saw the benefits of branching out and using methods that challenge students to take ownership of their own learning.”
If you are an educator who’s seeking a fresh challenge and a new perspective on teaching and learning, OneSchool Global – a network of schools with 125 campuses worldwide and 31 across Australia – could be the place for you. Learn more here.