Highlander Dialogues: SAS Faculty and Staff Practice Active and Experiential Learning
On February 18 the St. Andrew's faculty and staff gathered on the Upper School campus for a day of active and experiential teaching and learning. Highlander Dialogues, the moniker for the mid-February teacher inservice day, is an opportunity for faculty and staff to share their personal and professional skills, passions, and hobbies with their colleagues.
Having the time and space to teach and learn from each other helps build relationships and community among the SAS employees, which, to Chief Academic Officer and Highlander Dialogues coordinator Josh Nelson, ultimately makes our teachers better educators of their students and St. Andrew's a better place as a whole. After an opening chapel service, the day was broken into three parts — Skill Shares, PD Shares and, after lunch, the Unconference. Skill shares provided the time for colleauges to teach about their personal passions and hobbies; including Kubb (viking chess), financial advice, plant-based skin care and the enneagram personality typing system, just to name a few. The PD shares, a more traditional style of peer-led professional development, included sessions on learning how to learn, classroom organization, and 3D printing. After a fun, productive and delicious lunch, everyone gathered again in the Chapel for the Unconference. The format of an unconference is for participants to be given an empty agenda that they can fill with topics that feel important and relevant to them in real time. Having this opportunity at the end of the day allowed for topics, themes and ideas generated in the earlier sessions to be further discussed and built upon. As teachers everywhere experience, the demands of grading papers, creating lesson plans and supporting students often doesn't leave time to teach, learn from and bond with their colleagues. Having Highlander Dialogues during this busy time of the school year was a welcomed and worthwhile opportunity for all at St. Andrew's.