When we speak about the Windward Way of teaching, a fundamental element is its rigorous mentorship structure, with intensive professional development undertaken for all faculty, but especially for assistant teachers. One key component is the Summer Intensive Program (SIP), the final piece of training for Windward assistant teachers’ first year, which is in-depth, collaborative work on different areas of curriculum and lesson planning. In 2021, the program included 54 assistant teachers, the largest cadre ever.
Director of the Windward Teacher Training Program Sandra Schwarz explained, “Learning to work collaboratively is a very important aspect of being at Windward, something we always promote and support. SIP gives our assistant teachers time to reflect on how much they have accomplished in the past year and how much they have supported one another.”
Marsha Finkelstein, Assistant Director of the Windward Teacher Training Program, noted, “SIP is designed to enhance the understanding of our academic program and our students. Through the program, we have the opportunity to address topics that have been discussed and presented in professional development sessions throughout the year on a deeper level, enhancing teachers’ understanding.”
Modeled specifically for Windward’s needs, SIP is deliberate, well thought out, well defined, and laser focused on the Windward program and mission. Ms. Schwarz shared, “Most teachers don’t understand immediately how complex the Windward program is. There are so many layers and skills, which participants haven’t had a chance to learn in their college prep or teacher prep experiences. Our goal is to provide a focused and comprehensive experience so that teachers can enter the next school year with a strong skillset and a motivation to learn.”
Modeled specifically for Windward’s needs, SIP is deliberate, well thought out, well defined, and laser focused on the Windward program and mission.
One powerful element of the program is the thoughtful planning and presentation by department coordinators and mentor teachers. Each year is different, with presentations adapted to participants’ learning needs. "I really enjoy the curiosity of our participants and admire our presenters. It’s an honor for me to work with our school’s experts in their field of study as well as each division’s staff developer and mentor teachers to support the training of our newest faculty members,” noted Ms. Finkelstein.
In addition, participants in the program find it incredibly valuable to hear perspectives of their mentor teachers. "It's a chance for them to share, ‘I was in your position, and I was able to grow through the learning opportunities afforded to me.” The result of these efforts is a rich, multisensory program that leaves participants energized and confident as they look toward the academic year ahead.
Testimonials from SIP Participants
“The presenters gave such thorough explanations and engaging examples that helped me conceptualize each step of the subject lesson plan.”
“The presenters did a terrific job balancing engaging collaborative work with detailed information about the science program at Windward. As science is not my subject of expertise, I did enjoy learning about the student notetaking progression in this department and about the various science experiments students conduct during the school year.”
“The Language of Diversity in the Classroom was superb! The presenters were engaging, and the breakout work was relevant to what we hear and witness in the classroom. We were provided with excellent suggestions on how to navigate microaggressions, and I am thankful that SIP has raised my awareness!”
“It was really interesting to learn about Study Skills (SS) and Middle School SS, since I worked in the Lower School.”
“It was a nice experience to work on an LA project with people from multiple campuses. I found that having the mentor teacher there to help guide us was very helpful. There were times when we needed assistance rephrasing something or we even had a simple question we needed answered. It was helpful to plan another Expository Writing lesson before the year began so we get continued practice with the process.”
“It was a great overview of the math program and the research that supports the teaching methodology! The breakout room session was especially helpful in applying the strategies.”
“It was very interesting to learn how specials [such as art, physical education, music, etc.] have an impact on our students. It truly is a crucial component of the curriculum.”
“It was very interesting listening to the assistant campus heads discuss strategies they use to manage behaviors in the building. A lot of the advice they gave will be helpful for me in the future. I also found that collaborating in the breakout rooms gave me many different ideas on approaches to take for the scenarios. “