At Children's Community School, we believe that teachers are the center of our school. For children to have a joyful, educational experience, teachers must be given all the tools, support and trust of school community. At CCS, here's how we do that:
- We have a Professional Development budget that is healthy enough to send our teachers anywhere, at any time, to deepen their learning, study their practice, and reflect on their connections with the curriculum and the students. From math workshops to the national Annual Progressive Education Network's conference to our annual trek to the Institute for Descriptive Inquiry in Bennington, Vermont, the CCS teachers go all over the country to ensure their own love of learning is sated so they can bring that passion for learning back to their CCS classrooms.
- We consider teachers to be professionals, capable of autonomy, collaboration and flexibility. One way we ask teachers to continue their professional growth is to change grade levels every few years. This is a task that is both daunting and invigorating, but it keeps the CCS teachers working in partnership with each other, deepens their classroom skills, builds relationships with students over multiple years and makes each year fresh and exciting.
- The administrative staff understands that their role is in service of the teaching staff. This support is designed to help them have an engaged classroom, supportive parents and all the tools they need to be progressive teachers who can successfully enact CCS' mission of education for democracy.
- The staff has created a Sunshine Committee whose task is simply to lighten the mood among colleagues and keep them connected to each other. A CCS hat, a special slogan on a t-shirt, a game night gathering or a Happy Hour at our local brewery (see picture above), these are all ways that the CCS teachers (and staff) come together periodically to boost each other up and make sure that laughter rings loudly.
- At every CCS Sing, Neal asks the teachers to stand and be recognized with applause. It may seem perfunctory or ritualistic, but in fact, at CCS, we think that teachers are the difference-makers to the children. Their engagement, enthusiasm and sense of purpose are felt every day by their students, and to help them keep this love of their profession alive and well, they need some small piece of acknowledgement when the opportunity arises.
This week, the parents of CCS will host our annual Staff Appreciation Luncheon. They will take over the kitchen. Donated delicious dishes, handcut flowers, and pictures, notes and cards will be received, re-heated and displayed in a classroom transformed into a tranquil lunch space. There are professional massages, and parents even supervise the students for a short time so that for an afternoon, the adults of CCS are well-fed and cared for. We LOVE it. And it matters to all of us. Thank you for thanking us.