Faculty Devotes In-Service Day to Division-Specific Development—Advisory, Outdoor Education, Math and Reggio Emilia

While students enjoyed their last day of fall break on Tuesday, St. Margaret’s faculty had a full day of division-specific professional development featuring outside experts, off-campus observation and curriculum planning and development.

Middle and Upper Schools
Middle School and Upper School faculty devoted Tuesday’s in-service to developing skills centered around the school’s highly valued Advisory program.

The professional development session was led by Steve Barrett of the Wildwood Outreach Center, which has developed workshops and toolkits on advisory programs and their importance to the academic success of students.

Faculty spent time building their advisor “toolbox” by engaging in Advisory and classroom-ready protocols, investigating research on connectedness and relationships and their role in Advisory, and introducing and discussing strategies for leveraging students’ strengths to build relationships.

“It was so valuable to be able to dedicate a day to strengthening our skill set around Advisory,” Middle School Principal Jeannine Clarke said. “It is such an important program here at St. Margaret’s, and Mr. Barrett did a wonderful job of sharing research and perspectives about this part of the school experience. Our faculty left with ideas and skills that we are eager to implement in our essential role as advisors going forward.”

The session included a presentation by Mr. Barrett, a “Chalk Talk” session where faculty evaluated and discussed St. Margaret’s Advisory program, a look at research on school culture and caring student-teacher relationships and how they correlate with student outcomes, and exercises to help strengthen student-teacher communication.

Advisory in the Middle and Upper Schools at St. Margaret’s meet weekly to discuss current adolescent topics and social issues, reflect on school topics, perform community service projects, guide academic progress, and connect with one another. The advisory groups become a constant, tight-knit school family for each student. The school views the advisor as the person on campus who knows and best cares for each student and will be a trusted counselor and supporter.
 
Student feedback has consistently shown that they view Advisory as a valued and irreplaceable part of the Tartan experience. As part of the school schedule redesign implemented this school year and based on student input, Advisory time was doubled in the Upper School to further strengthen relationships between students and advisors and within advisory groups.

Lower School
In the Lower School, Kindergarten faculty visited a local certified outdoor classroom to observe and further develop ideas to utilize in St. Margaret’s new Lower School Outdoor Classroom.

Faculty grades 1-5 took part in professional development centered around math, which included training in grade-specific math programs as well as discussions and curriculum planning.

Preschool
The Preschool welcomed Daniella Arbrizzi to St. Margaret’s on Tuesday to talk about intentionality, curriculum and documentation consistent with the Reggio Emilia approach to early-childhood education, with which St. Margaret’s Preschool is closely aligned. Ms. Arbrizzi was born and raised in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and works as a child development program specialist.
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An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California