Saturday, November 28 , 2015, 5:49 am | Fair 39º

Santa Barbara Middle School Teachers Return from Program Strengthening Lifelong Learning

By Kara Petersen for Santa Barbara Middle School |

The faculty and staff of Santa Barbara Middle School (SBMS) recently attended the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) Southern Regional Conference in Los Angeles. Many teachers enjoyed the opportunity to switch seats and become students, while others led workshops highlighting more than 30 years of expertise in and out of the classroom.

The CAIS conference provides a unique opportunity to compare notes and best practices with teachers and administrators from all over Southern California. SBMS faculty and staff taught three classes, and attended more than 60 classes on topics ranging from “Teaching Digital Citizenship on an iPad” to “Developing Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice” to “Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students.”

SBMS Spanish teacher Wren Miller used examples from her Spanish curriculum to teach a Multimedia Design Workshop. She discussed methods to engage students with technology and teach the essential capacities of collaboration, digital literacy, complex communication and problem-solving, while still delivering her curricular content. The workshop focused on designing multimedia projects with excerpts from an English Literature curriculum and Beginning Spanish Language curriculum, culminating with a multimedia iMovie project.

“Two Million Miles and More: 35 years of Experiential Education In and Beyond the Classroom” was presented by James Brady, assistant head of school, and Erin Finnegan, director of outdoor education. Since 1976, all students and faculty have traveled for 25 days each year, on at least three different journeys. The presentation explored the journeys themselves, which include cycling, ocean kayaking, hiking, mountaineering and marine studies. It also looked at the program’s positive impact on classroom learning and the students’ personal growth.

SBMS teachers Sue Carmody, David Teton-Landis and Jesse Kasehagen, along with six students, known as Bike Monkeys (bike mechanics and leaders) presented, “Lessons from the Seat of the Bicycle.” Video excerpts from the SBMS bike expeditions and the students’ personal stories exemplified the personal growth that takes place as a result of the three substantial bike trips the school takes each year. The Bike Monkeys used their hand-made “Wheel of Cycle” to engage the audience and illuminate these life lessons: leadership, grit, risk, challenge, community, fitness and connection.

SBMS staff and faculty attended the following workshops:

Session 1

» Heads of School - General Session
» Schools Going Green: California's Pioneering Role
» Book Review and Preview
» Teaching Digital Citizenship on an iPad
» Sparking Boys' Interest in Language Arts
» Using Councils and Community Circles to Increase Communication and Solve Problems
» Girls Rights: Teaching About Human Rights Through Peer-Led Learning
» World Class Education- Yong Zhao
» Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students
» Using Google Drive for Collaboration, Sharing and Assessment
» Cooperative Learning for Middle School Math
» Letting Go of Grammar

Session 2

» Seven Essential Factors to Engage Teachers and Students
» Public-Private Partnership through Entrepreneurship
» Literary Instruction
» Tweet This! Engaging Youth in Community Through Social Media
» Middle School 101: A Cross-Curricular Perspective
» Navigating Gender and Sexuality Diversity in Middle and Upper School
» Our Children Grow Up Drug Free and Mentally Healthy
» To Blog or Not to Blog
» Green Schools: Triple Bottom Line
» Developing Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice
» Physics

Session 3

» Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students
» Digital Citizenship & Media Literacy
» Understanding the Complexity of ADHD
» Learning From the Student Experience in Facilitated Online Classes
» Flash Fiction
» Islamic Geometry in Patterns
» Why Self Compassion is More Important than Self Esteem.
» Teaching with Images: Strategies for Visual Thinking Across the Disciplines
» Game Based Learning for Developing Skills and Global Awareness
» Making a Tech Fabrication Lab
» The Root of Technology
» What's Wrong in the Math Classroom?
» A Student lead Approach to Addressing Bullying
» Science: Critical Thinking

From first aid and safety training to groundbreaking research on the teen-age brain, SBMS teachers and staff leave no stone unturned when it comes to professional development. With safety first, teachers began this school year at the National Outdoor Leadership Wilderness Medicine Institute training. After a weekend of scenarios and trauma training in the Santa Ynez Valley, they headed to the beach to fine-tune water-safety skills. 

SBMS staff continues its learning with guest speakers, faculty reading and in-depth studies on a wide range of topics related to their subjects. At SBMS, the love of learning inspires both teachers and students all year long.

— Kara Petersen is assistant to the headmaster and alumni coordinator at Santa Barbara Middle School.

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