Dear Winston Families, Colleagues and Friends,
Having a faculty of expert learning specialists who deeply understand our students is an integral component of how we successfully fulfill our mission. Winston Innovation Lab’s 101 professional learning program is designed to support campus leaders in preparing first-year Winston teachers to do just that. Dedicated to developing faculty members’ knowledge of learning, learning disorders, and research-based methods of remediation even before students step into a WPS classroom, Winston 101 is designed for all new faculty members and begins with an intensive summer workshop series, continuing throughout the fall semester. With WIL leaders presenting on various topics, first-year faculty members have the opportunity to learn alongside their peers from all WPS campuses. The summer workshops focus on immersing new faculty in understanding the WPS mission and philosophy by diving deep into the Qualities of a Sustainable and Independent Learner, the Continuous Feedback System, and the Neuropsychological Paradigm of Learning and Learning Disorders, while cultivating their ‘toolbox’ of knowledge, assessment, and best practices. The fall semester includes a 6-session series aimed at supporting the application of this understanding through current student case study discussions and evidence-based programming design.
As we recently concluded the Winston 101 professional learning series, the Innovation Lab’s Special Projects Coordinator, Jaclyn Baharestani, sat down with Sharie Bryant, a first-year Winston Prep teacher, to reflect upon her Winston 101 experience.
Being a First Year Winston Prep Teacher
As a first year teacher at Winston, there’s just so much you have to take in, there’s so much to have to download, and so I think when we initially talked about all of the things that I would have to know or learn, I was like, this is a lot. I’m going to do it, but it’s a lot. And I think having the bar set or the expectation set of ‘I know this is a lot right now but we’re going to unpack it in all the different 101s’ helped – having that whole review and then breaking that down. So that was helpful and it was good to know that from the beginning.
Learning from One Another
Doing case studies and hearing other teachers talk about their experiences, that was great. And having teachers from other campuses – hearing what is happening in other classrooms and other campuses, hearing that I might have the same group of learners as other teachers have – was great, and getting to have that dialogue with other teachers that we don’t really get to have during COVID. Winston 101 helps us to have a broad view of what Winston is and what other teachers are experiencing.
Sense of Community
There’s also covering, you know, learning more about executive functioning, learning more about nonverbal learning disorders, learning more about dyslexia, learning about learning disabilities. We learned about the technical part but it was also great to have the aspect of ‘how are you doing as a teacher – the human aspect of it’. I felt comfortable as a first year – if I had some questions I could share them with you, but sometimes I didn’t have questions because I didn’t know what questions to ask – and so that was also helpful with 101 because other people would ask questions and I’d be like, ‘oh, I didn’t think of that’…that was also very helpful.
After one of my first 101s I said to Aviva [Oliker], ‘I’m just a sub’ and she said, excitedly, “You’re going to get to know all the students!” And I didn’t really know if I should believe her – is she just trying to hype me up for my in-house sub role? But then I quickly realized that my role has accelerated my understanding and getting to know the kids, and getting to know the classes, and getting to see, for example, that executive functioning challenges in one group can look very different from another group – and seeing it, not just talking about it – and seeing how that plays out in individual students’ lives, not just the class groups. Winston 101 has been helpful because we talk about what executive functioning is and how it impacts learning and performance, and then I can take that knowledge and apply it to what I’m seeing. So by the end of the 101 program I didn’t feel so overwhelmed, and all of the information came together and I was able to apply what I learned.
A special thanks to Sharie Bryant for generously sharing her time and thoughts as an illustration of how the Winston Innovation Lab impacts the experience of our faculty, and in turn, our students.