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As summer approaches, Catholic school educators prepare to keep learning

byChristopher S. Pineo
6/6/2014

BRAINTREE -- As students begin to settle into summer vacation, educators of the Archdiocese of Boston Schools Office will be headed in for some classes of their own.

From June 23 through June 26, approximately 300 archdiocesan teachers will be undertaking professional development at three different events.

Mary Moran, acting superintendent of schools for the archdiocese, laid out some of the goals of professional development events, such as those scheduled at various locations in the archdiocese throughout the end of June.

"There are many reasons, and good reasons, for professional development. Among them are that it keeps our teachers current. They are informed on what is happening educationally, within their own system of schools, but also on a national level. It's also a great opportunity to sit and have those rich conversations, professional conversations, with other teachers, and to network so that you are building up that system that supports you and what you are doing in your classroom," Moran said.

Chris Flieger, associate superintendent for academics and mission for the Catholic Schools Office, said participants will cover information focused on topics of rigorous academics, integrating technology in the classroom, and cultural sensitivity.

LeAnn Nickelsen, founder and CEO of educational organization Maximize Learning, was to present teacher workshops for pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade teachers on June 23 and 24, and seventh-grade through 12th-grade teachers on June 25 and 26. Sessions will take place at the Pastoral Center in Braintree.

"A big thing they are going to be talking about is the 'growth-mindset,' so that students can achieve, and students can get smarter. The brain is malleable. That is a big piece of it, along with assessment -- different ways of assessing students throughout the school year to make sure that they are on track, and they are learning what they need to," he said.

The Catholic Schools Office, the Barbara and Patrick Roche Center for Catholic Education, and the Lynch School of Education at Boston College present the third annual Summer Technology Academy, June 25 and 26, at Boston College.

The Tech Academy will include sessions for school principals and teachers according to the event website at csfsummertechacademy.weebly.com. Flieger spoke about some of the questions that the training sessions might address for teachers.

"A word we use now is 'personalization.' How are you using technology to personalize learning in each individual classroom? So, a lot of it is around using iPads in the classroom. What type of activities can students do? How can teachers make technology kind of a seamless part of their every-day instruction?" he asked.

The Academic Language Learning Institute will present guidance on how to create culturally appropriate classrooms for instruction and develop strategies to implement best practices to welcome newcomers to classrooms and schools, June 25 and 26, at St. John Paul II Academy's Neponset campus.

"It's really about helping teachers be able to interact effectively with people of different cultures, and to engage them," he said.

He called it a very important aspect of the professional development programs as schools continue to diversify in culture, race, and socioeconomics.

He said the diversity training aims at motivating a school environment wherein "teachers are prepared to respect the diversity, to welcome it, and to engage within it within their classroom."

Flieger also said it is important to bring educators together to interact with those from other schools.

"When they come together and can make those connections, they can share best practices, they can learn together," Flieger said.

He said the Catholic Schools office hopes to follow up with educators on information covered at the professional development programs and trainings throughout the school year.

"We would love for them to come to these sessions, learn something, take the summer to think about it, really engage it in their own mind, implement it in the fall, and then come back and talk about what worked, what didn't work, you know, call somebody up that they met, and figure out what the next steps are," he said.