Teachers are the heart of an excellent education and the Foundation is a major source of funding for professional development for Bronxville’s educators. Teachers learn new curricula and cutting-edge teaching techniques that engage students and provide them with opportunities to develop real-world problem solving, technology and communications skills. Foundation resources are particularly important in this area because state funding for teacher training has dropped precipitously from its high in 2008.
Nearly every teacher across all three schools has participated in training programs and conferences supported by Foundation grants. Some of the largest efforts have included:
- Project-Based Learning - a teaching method used in all grades and across multiple disciplines in which students work for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to authentic, engaging and complex questions and problems. As an example, last year’s third graders tackled the free and fair trade issues behind eating chocolate.
- Socratic Seminars – where students help one another understand the ideas, issues, and values reflected in a text through a group discussion format. Students are responsible for facilitating their group discussion and learn how to listen carefully, distill multiple dimensions of a text, and actively participate in a conversation
- Columbia Teachers College Reading and Writing Program – Middle School teachers recognized the need for a common rubric for helping students write persuasively and effectively across a variety of genres. They engaged in extensive training with Columbia Teachers College experts and have revamped the entire Middle School writing curriculum. The project has now been introduced into the Elementary School, as well.
- Teaching with Technology – grants in 2016 and 2017 helped teachers learn how to get the most out of in-classroom technology and help students further their learning, collaboration, innovation and communication with technology tools.
- Harvard University Design Thinking - members of Bronxville’s new K-12 iSTEAM committee attended this workshop to build skills and learn the tools and processes involved in Design Thinking.This is an iterative process which seeks to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent initally. Teachers plan to use the skills to further develop Bronxville’s STEAM offerings and to train other teachers and students in its powerful methods.
- Through a grant funded by the Foundation in 2018, fifteen of our educators attended an on-site training session, Talking About Race in the Classroom, from the Center for Racial Justice in Education (formerly called Border Crossers). In July of 2019, Justin Chao attended Let's Talk, a weeklong course on teaching race in the classroom. The conference investigates race and racism in society and how it impacts educators' dialogue with their students through this difficult topic.
- A Design Team of teachers, administrators, parents and students received training in EnRusk (formerly NoTosh) Design Thinking. They generated data about the state of the high school and then immersed themselves into the EnRusk Design Thinking process to develop ideas to more fully realize the Bronxville Promise. They created prototypes with innovative approaches to learning and shared them with the school commmunity for feedback, but they were forced to pause the work due to COVID-19.
- The four groups reconvened with EnRusk in late January 2021. The pandemic accelerated innovation at the high school and provided a unique opportunity to move forward with the prototypes. Prototype ideas to foster greater connectivity and community became even more salient during the pandemic and therefore the impetus to innovate around these areas became even greater than before.
- The Foundation also funded "debrief" sessions in the Elementary School, Middle School, and High School to determine what lessons have been learned during Covid-19 and what we can take forward into the future. EnRusk will take the data gained from the debrief sessions and analyze it for themes and insights.