professional development

PEN Conference Presenters

Three members of the TPS faculty and staff will be presenting at the Progressive Education Network (PEN) conference in Boston this October. The conference's theme this year is "amplify students’ voice, agency, conscience, and intellect to create a more equitable, just, and sustainable world." Attendees will include teachers from around the nation. 

Diversity Director Brian Johnson will lead a workshop on the Equitable Classroom Program he has piloted in several classrooms this year. The initiative uses survey data from participating students, as well as from their teachers/advisors and their parents, to help us understand how they are experiencing school and what strategies might best help them overcome identified academic or social-emotional barriers. The overall goal is to develop a responsive system of support for student achievement and a greater sense of social-emotional belonging. As capacity for self-advocacy is nurtured and personal goals have been met, the children transition out of the program.

Seventh grade teacher Jake Hunter and Communication Director Lois West will lead a PEN workshop on student issue-based activism. They will highlight their middle school Intensive course "Let's Go Lobbying," where students learned how to advocate for their stances on such issues as reproductive rights, transgender bathroom access in schools, sanctuary cities, pay equity, stronger background checks for gun purchases, and public school funding. And they put their learning into action, speaking to legislative staff in Senator Casey's and Toomey's offices in Philadelphia and to Pennsylvania state representatives in Harrisburg.

Save the Date: Attic Workshop

Staff from the Attic Youth Center, the only organization in Philadelphia exclusively serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, will be at TPS on November 16 and 17 to work with parents, students, and teachers on issues facing LGBTQ youth. 

The Attic workshop for parents and guardians will be on Thursday, November 17, at 6 p.m. in the Garage. Please save the date! At this TPS Progressive Talk participants will learn about terms regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, difficulties LGBTQ youth face in “coming out,” and barriers experienced by LGBTQ youth within family, school, relationships, health, and other arenas. Participants will learn the importance of family acceptance as a resilience factor for LGBTQ youth and how to be more inclusive, affirming, and supportive of LGBTQ youth in their families and communities through learning best practices and hearing directly from LGBTQ youth panelists about their experiences navigating family acceptance.

Read more about the Attic’s mission and programming. 





Edcamp at TPS

On Thursday, August 11, The Philadelphia School played host to Edcamp Delaware Valley Independent Schools (DVIS) . Edcamp is an increasingly popular "unconference" model that promotes educator exchanges of school-related ideas and issues by way of attendee-led debates, presentations, and discussions. 

The free event, sponsored primarily by The Philadelphia School, Edu-Tech Academic Solutions, and Air Squirrels, started with a complimentary breakfast and networking hour during which participants proposed breakout session topics.  A wide variety of concepts found there way on the "Big Board" (a makeshift matrix of session times and rooms made of painter's tape and large sticky notes as seen both on the wall in MPR and on this Google Doc). They included "Pokémon Go in the Classroom?! Augmented Reality's Impact on Lesson Planning," "Technology & Mindfulness: When to Plug In and When to Unplug," and "Integrating Design Thinking into Your Classroom."

Professional Development with Ali Michael

Our April 13th faculty meeting was dedicated to ongoing diversity efforts. The primary focus of our work this year has centered on the question, How do we enhance equity in our classroom?  

We again called on Ali Michael, Director of the P-12 Consulting and Professional Development Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania, to facilitate a workshop and review of her work this fall with our preschool and kindergarten teams.  Teachers had the opportunity to direct questions to Ali and to the teams who had worked with her. They created personal goals around equity and inclusion in their own classrooms and developed next steps to address them. 

People of Color Conference 2015

By Brian Johnson, Diversity Coordinator & Director of Admission (grades 1-7)

Earlier this month, Matt Eskin, Madeline Ortiz-Leonard, Katrina Jones, Catherine Bogart-Rome, Frances Hoover, and I attended the National Association of Independent School’s People of Color Conference in Tampa, Florida.  The focus of the annual conference is to provide a safe place and environment for people of color and white allies from Independent schools across the nation to share ideas, learn new strategies/concepts and cultivate/maintain networks.  The 4,300 students, teachers and administrators in attendance made this year’s conference the largest ever in its 28-year history. Two TPS alumni in attendance were Madison Harris. Ray Hill-Cristol, and Amma Thomas.

Conference highlights included a sit-down conversation with Debby Irving, author of Waking Up White.  Irving's book was our faculty’s summer reading book and the focus of a recent four-part TPS parent book talk. We also heard from many great speakers who have accomplished much in the field of diversity and inclusion work.  Mae Jemison, the first woman of color to go to space, spoke at length on the importance of STEAM education and the promotion of careers in the sciences for females and students of color. Harvard social psychologist Mahzarin Banaji, creator of the Implicit Association Test (which measures implicit bias towards people), gave a captivating presentation about her work. Her battery of tests has been used in the private and public sectors to mitigate bias in the workplace and in the hiring process.

TPS staff attended numerous workshops over the course of the conference.  Notable topics included: applying Critical Race Theory to school policies and practices, the role of diversity in the hiring process, the impact of implicit bias, the effects of microaggressions, strategies to support black male students, and the promotion of racial identity development amongst students and white privilege in our schools.

For many participants, the conference also represents a time to re-energize, soul search and self-reflect.  The shared time with like-minded people can be very invigorating and have a big impact on one’s journey with diversity.  In the spirit of reflective practice, each TPS participant walked away with new goals and mindsets to apply as a diversity practitioner in our community.  

Reflections on My Summer Teacher Fellowship

by Jess Ford, 6th grade teacher

This summer I spent three weeks traveling and learning in East Africa. My goal was to bring back newly gained knowledge and insight to the 6th grade curriculum, where we study Africa throughout the entire school year. I had the opportunity to travel with high school students from Washington, DC, spending one week in Tanzania and two weeks in Rwanda. The goals of the trip were to learn, listen, and collect stories so that we can have a better understanding of the diverse continent. 

Something that the 6th grade team has struggled with in teaching our African curriculum is that we have been "outsiders": three white Americans. We have done our best to deliver an authentic experience for our students, and although this trip could never make me an insider, it provided first-hand knowledge that will better equip me to teach our Africa curriculum.

I had countless opportunities to learn from native people, whom I interviewed about their country, life, and history.