When she first started at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School – located in Indianapolis – nine years ago, Assistant Principal Jen LaMaster described the school’s professional development programs as “hit or miss.” Back then, she was hired to ramp up the school’s professional development programs related to Educational Technology, and although she’s since moved into an administrative role, she jokes that Brebeuf Jesuit has come so far that they’ve made her old job obsolete.
The teachers at Brebeuf Jesuit were solid for independent school educators in the Midwest – but they did often lack the
supplementary training that would ensure each of them the opportunity to continue growing as educators. This was especially important in an area like digital education, as unlike their students, instructors did not necessarily grow up with technology being a large part of their classroom experience.
Finding out how to help these teachers was part of the challenge. The solution LaMaster used was through the school’s teacher evaluation process. Brebeuf Jesuit administrators make it a priority to spend a lot of their time in classroom observing teachers, and as a result, they are able to keep very specific and detailed evaluations for every instructor – both where they succeed and where they could use some more help.
The themes found in that information inspired LaMaster to find ways to actively address areas where the school felt its teachers needed to improve. What Brebeuf Jesuit chose to do was set up events like lunches and workshops, where educators could get together and learn from one another.
“We brought everyone together so veterans could teach novices,” LaMaster said. “[In the workshops], teachers are sharing all kinds of ideas. We feel there’s this critical mass when everyone comes together where the whole group benefits. We even built a room specifically for things like this.”
Topics in these sessions cover all kinds of different areas: teaching techniques, educational resources, emerging educational technologies, etc. The idea is for faculty members to learn things and then apply what they learn in the classroom.
“We want innovation to grow out of the classroom,” LaMaster said. “Our strategic goal is that every teacher is excellent, and that every student is having an excellent educational experience here [at Brebeuf Jesuit]."
Brebeuf Jesuit supplements these on-campus opportunities by making it clear to their faculty that if they find a conference or summer project they want to participate in, the school will help make sure that happens.