This article was featured in the 2022 River Oaks Baptist School publication of Vine & Branch.
Educating our Educators
The most compelling research in the education marketplace points to teachers as the strongest indicator of high achievement in students. Our goal at ROBS is to hire the best teachers and then help them become even better. Just like a surgeon or accountant must keep up with new developments to remain effective, so too must teachers. This past year every ROBS teacher completed somewhere between 20-40 hours of professional learning (the range accounting for differences in roles and length of employment). Areas of training vary from refresher courses on how to implement Handwriting Without Tears in the classroom to national conferences on the latest research and best practices in project-based learning, differentiated instruction, and mind brain education. All faculty and staff also participate in safety seminars on how to protect children, including training to prevent situations that could give rise to abuse, seminars by experts on how to keep children safe online, and first aid classes such as CPR and the use of defibrillators.
Professional development also happens through our evaluation process, which has several layers. Every year, each faculty member meets with his or her division head to mutually set goals and, at the end of the year, to assess progress. Our instructional coaches conduct regular educational sessions with grade-level teams; they also visit each classroom routinely and provide individual feedback. Every three years, teachers are more formally evaluated on skills including teaching competencies, professionalism, collaboration, and communication. Our entire process is designed to support outstanding teachers in our classrooms who work everyday to love and teach children.
Rethinking How Kids Think
Despite its central role in learning, the brain is relatively under-studied in the education world. Fortunately for our students, ROBS teachers are well-versed in Mind Brain Education (MBE) science research – a new transdisciplinary field that examines how the brain works best and how to apply that knowledge into teaching practices. In 2020 the Middle School faculty embarked on a group study of MBE through the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning. Since then, all teachers, advisors, and coaches in the Middle School have completed (or will complete depending on the faculty member’s start date) the center’s 12-course certificate program that imparts teaching practice based on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and education. A group study of the books Neuroteach and Powerful Teaching that outline strategies based on cognitive science supplemented the Middle School learning effort.