Professional Development at Lawrence

Posted by Monica Crowley on 11/12/2018 5:00:00 PM

Dear Lawrence Families,


I hope your children had a restful and fun day off on Friday, November 9, 2018. While the students were not in school, staff participated in three professional development sessions over the course of the day. We had an invigorating and informative day where staff were engaged in learning with each other, all in service to inform instruction to meet the needs of every one of our amazing students!


For the past two years, we joined other Brookline staff and gathered at Brookline High School to hear from keynote speakers, Beverly Daniel Tatum in 2016 and Jamie Almanzan in 2017. After each speaker, we broke into small groups to reflect on the messages of each presentation, which included inclusion, active anti-racist work, and valuing all students.


This year, each school was provided time to plan and execute professional development opportunities that aligned specifically with the needs of the school as we continue to strive for equity. The day was divided into three ninety-minute sessions. Staff gathered as a whole group for the first session and then by grade bands. The session topics are listed below.


Session 1:

Strengthening Relationships: High Expectations and Support for All Students.

(All staff attended)


Staff reviewed responses from the Lawrence family and staff surveys from spring, 2018 that asked questions about school climate, relationships, respecting diverse backgrounds and supporting all students.

Then staff read four selections from “Everyday Anti-Racism” that relate to building relationships and fostering high expectations and the supports needed to meet those expectations for all students. Then they identified action items to try and put into practice.


Action Items:

Commit to three action items (“Try Tomorrow”) that relate to the articles to use during the month of November/December to…

  1. build stronger and more authentic relationships with a student/group of students
  2. identify a specific skill or interest of yours you would like to bring into class and
  3. identify a “High Help and High Perfectionism” pedagogy.


We will review the implementation of the action items and their effectiveness at our January faculty meetings.


Session 2: Looking at Current Student Work to Inform Instruction and Risk Training for Middle School Staff.

*K-2: Math

(Classroom teachers, special education teachers, EL staff, paraprofessionals, and interns/student teachers attended)

 Goal: By the end of this session, teachers began planning for differentiated instruction based on a deeper understanding of specific math content and their students’ current thinking.


  1. Equity Discussion

Staff discussed what equity in math instruction looks like now and how they can affect it with a focus on Jo Boaler’s and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Equity statements.


  1. Data Reviewed:

MCAS data and student specific data administered to all students K-5 this fall.


  1. Grade Level Work:

Each grade identified one standard/ math goal of the three choices to focus on.

Grade level teams identified and defined solid understanding of math concept and thought about what leads to that understanding.

Staff looked at student work to identify different student entry points and then planned for instruction (lessons and activities) in response to different student groupings.


*3-5: Literacy

(Classroom teachers, special education teachers, EL staff, paraprofessionals, and interns/student teachers attended)


The focus of this session was to deepen our understanding of narrative writing, develop an understanding of struggling writers, create a focus plan to use during instructional writing contexts when working with students and begin our work of looking vertically of narrative writing K-5.

Staff reviewed and analyzed student writing of all abilities, strengthened their understanding of expected grade level quality writing K-5, and planned for instruction to grow all our student writers.


*6-8: Risk Training

(Classroom teachers, special education teachers, art/PE/music and health specialists, K-8 guidance, psychologist, paraprofessionals, and interns/student teachers attended)

The goal of this session was to increase the confidence level of all 6-8 staff in dealing with students in crisis, clarify steps a staff member should take if they are concerned about a student, and to clarify role of staff member and role of the guidance counselor.


Session 3:

Looking at Current Student Work to Inform Instruction and Identifying the Strengths of Every Middle Scholl Student.


*K-2: Literacy

(Classroom teachers, special education teachers, EL staff, paraprofessionals, and interns/student teachers attended)


Read description above.


*3-5: Math

(Classroom teachers, special education teachers, EL staff, paraprofessionals, and interns/student teachers attended)


Read description above.


*6-8: Valuing Every Child

As middle school educators teach over 80 students, more if one teaches health, art, music and PE, staff took the time to reflect on every student’s positive personality and academic strengths. They then identified which observations they would select to share as comments in the first term report card to communicate their perceptions to each student.


I have included a few comments about the school based professional development day from various staff. 

“Thank you for the excellent day of learning today- I thoroughly enjoyed having a chance to collaborate with the team and others. I loved the readings you shared this morning (some quotes from those article will be making their way into my teaching portfolio soon!)”


“Great PD day today folks! Powerful things happened. Seriously. Way to go.” 


“Every session was so useful. I am able to use all of the learning immediately!”


“Thank you for planning such a wonderful day today! It was all really inspiring and thought provoking. The first session was really powerful and made me think of one of my one students in particular....”


“Thank you so much for a very productive and enjoyable PD Day.  I feel energized and

more connected to the teachers with whom I collaborate, and with the faculty in general.”


“Today was productive in terms of both school-based work as well as community-building. I feel so very fortunate to work at this school and to have you as an administrator and guide. “