What’s New in Professional Learning at Colegio Bolivar?

After nineteen teachers graduated with a master’s degree from Western Carolina University last semester, we were ready for a new faculty group to start a similar program with classes in school again, but in Spanish, with a local university. We found the best option for us and an agreement was signed with Icesi University for a cohort of fifteen professionals to begin this journey back in August. It is hard to believe that they are finishing their first semester already! They are all really happy with the experience so far, feeling challenged by excellent professors, sharing views with colleagues in other sections, and establishing connections to improve their day-to-day classroom practices in order to maximize learning for all.

On the other hand, we added this year a new dimension to our PLC, job-embedded, professional learning in school. We have asked teachers to identify that one area of interest related to their practice, which is not covered by school-wide, section, or PLC Team goals, and explore it. We are providing the time, structure, resources, and support to either work with people with similar curiosities (no matter the section or area) or work independently going as deeply as each person wants. The topics chosen (pasted on the wall in the picture) are all very interesting / diverse and there are numerous tales of how this little space has opened windows of opportunity for teachers, making them very excited about their own learning. Since we want to personalize even more the learning for our students, we have to have all teachers experience it themselves first!

Professional Learning Events at Colegio Bolivar

On March 9 and 10, with the support of the Association of Colombian-Caribbean American Schools (ACCAS), Colegio Bolivar hosted an institute for administrators titled “Enhancing Student Learning through Assessment, LEADING THE WAY!” Ms. Bambi Betts, Director of the Principals’ Training Center for International School Leadership, led this inspiring professional learning opportunity for seventeen participants, coming from six different ACCAS schools in Colombia, who enriched their repertoire of strategies to foster best assessment practices in their communities.

On March 10 and 11, Colegio Bolivar also held its 12th Forum on Teaching and Learning for all of its faculty and for more than eighty educators coming from three countries and eight different cities in Colombia. Besides attending Bambi Betts’ keynote and having the possibility to be a part of three different workshops offered by Patricia Reeder from NWEA, teachers had a chance to choose from fifty high-quality presentations put together by their colleagues. The exchange of best practices was phenomenal!

We hope to continue promoting such events in our school for the benefit of our region!

Professional Learning

Since our las update, besides continuing with the Master’s program in Education for eighteen of our teachers through Western Carolina University, we have designed and put into a document Colegio Bolivar’s Comprehensive Professional Learning System which we will be sharing with all interested parties. In addition, we are closing the semester with the report from the different PLC teams which have been working hard, within different structures, in their professional development.

Some grade levels or departments are carrying out action research projects for which they have reviewed relevant and up-to-date literature and they have designed data collection tools, jointly. Others have established plans for formally sharing their knowledge and expertise with colleagues, from which everybody has benefited, and will continue next January with the application stage, verifying the impact that it has on their students’ learning. A third approach has implied choosing a particular text, directly related to their common goal, to work on it during multiple sessions, identifying the applicability in the classroom of discussed topics. Last, there are teams that have received the support from their coaches to strengthen competencies and strategies needed to continue maximizing the curricular implementation.

We are very excited with what we are achieving with this process, having established the PLC at Work framework just a year and a half ago. Obviously, we will be using the feedback, both formal and informal, that teachers are giving us to continue making the necessary adjustments so this project contributes, in the most effective way, to the attainment of the strategic goal stated to guarantee that we always have high quality teachers.

CB Institute 2016

On September 8 and 9, we hosted the CB Institute with the support of the Tri-Association (the Association of American Schools in Central America, Colombia-Caribbean, and Mexico). All of our educational staff participated as well as more than fifty attendees from the United States, Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, and our sister schools in Colombia. This excellent professional learning opportunity was led by the international consultant Lee Ann Jung and the Academic Director at Universidad ICESI, José Hernando Bahamón. Dr. Jung and Dr. Bahamón addressed the topics of inclusion, differentiation, and effective assessment practices in plenary sessions and workshops that validated what we do at Bolivar and gave us more elements to work in these lines, within the context of our culture of continuous improvement. We hope to have more of these events that are in line with Goal 1 in our Strategic Plan which is to maintain high quality teachers.

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