Michelle Capobres and Alexis Bayley, two masterminds behind Aim High’s teaching and learning model, presented this fall at the National Summer Learning Association Conference in Seattle to a congregation of summer learning professionals. Together, they led ‘The Teaching Laboratory: Embedded Professional Development,’ a workshop that shared Aim High’s teacher goal-setting and feedback cycle with other enthusiastic educators.

Photo courtesy of NSLA.
Photo courtesy of NSLA.

Michelle, Director of Academics and Program Evaluation, and Alexis, Organizational Learning Specialist, discussed how embedded professional development can promote high-quality instruction and cultivate a positive program culture. Participants learned how to create a professional development model that was reflective of their own organizational culture and incorporated goal-setting, reflection, mentoring, and peer-observation.

I realized that culture plays a huge role in professional development and creating a community that fosters learning and growth for both our students and teachers.Michelle Capobres, Director of Academics and Program Evaluation

Michelle has played a significant role in making embedded professional development a hallmark of Aim High. But despite her familiarity with the practice, she still experienced her own ‘a-ha’ moments while planning the workshop. “I realized that organizational culture plays a huge role in professional development and creating a community that fosters learning and growth for both our students and teachers,” Michelle says.

Alexis agrees with Michelle that learning is not only for the students. “Aim High teachers, like our students, have the opportunity to be active learners who are coached to reflect on their practice and apply new skills throughout the summer,” she says. “Presenting at the conference provides us with the opportunity to offer these strategies to the field, which can result in informed training for summer teachers nationwide and ultimately improving learning experiences for more students.”

Michelle and Alexis represented Aim High at the 2016 National Summer Learning Conference in Seattle.
Michelle and Alexis represented Aim High at the 2016 National Summer Learning Conference in Seattle.

Last year, Stanford University’s Gardner Center conducted an implementation study of Aim High’s programming by observing classrooms and meeting with teachers and parents. The study, which was published last spring, affirmed Aim High’s embedded professional development and recognized the impact it has on teacher growth. “I pushed myself to create assignments and lessons that I would be intimidated to attempt in a normal classroom,” said one teacher in the Gardner Center Study. “Aim High has given me the confidence to try new,challenging ideas in the classroom.”

The workshop ended with a screening of ‘Aim High Is…,’ a two-minute montage of joyful summer learning. Congratulations to Michelle and Alexis for your innovation and leadership in embedded professional development.

 

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