On Monday, January 3, as students enjoyed one final day of Semester Break, the faculty and staff gathered on each campus for a day of professional learning to kick off the New Year!

One highlight was a cross-divisional conversation in small groups about a selection of readings from Black Lives Matter At School, Teaching for Black Lives, and Teaching Blackness, Loving Blackness, and Exploring Identity. We took some time to read articles targeted to education professionals working with different age groups. One focused on talking with younger children about skin color and differences; another reflected the experiences of Black students in a majority-white classroom; and the last one was written by a Black educator about the ways in which white teachers can most effectively approach students of color. While the readings focused on race, the points each made are apt for other DEIB areas such as gender, too. After reading, we then discussed them with a few colleagues, finishing by reflecting on the readings and allowing them to spark some goal-setting for the coming months as we work to improve our Cultural Competency as educators.

The Lower, Middle, and High School divisions combined again within departments to discuss the synergies between Lead (LS), Advisory (MS), and Connections (HS) morning activities, as well as grading philosophies and curricular updates. Our Lead, Advisory, and Connections programs move our social and emotional learning forward in the school and help us cultivate a community of belonging, and it’s important that our teachers across divisions have time to share what this work looks like with the age groups they serve. The Preschool faculty also spent some time with Claudia McCrocklin, our former Learning Center Director who continues to run Langsford Learning Acceleration Centers, on phonemic awareness and early childhood literacy. 

Finally, we had some time for teachers to spend in their classrooms, ensuring learning spaces were ready for returning students and shoring up their plans for the coming weeks. Days spent with our students are always the best ones, but teachers appreciated the opportunity to reflect on the semester just completed and look ahead to the new one, equipped with some new ideas and strategies to continue delivering on the Mission and the Core Values of SFS.