Secondary teachers gear up for new school year at Transformation Institute

More than 2,000 teachers attend professional development focused on transforming instruction

Nearly 1,000 middle and high school teachers spent the last week of July gearing up for the start of the school year at the district’s Summer Transformation Institute—one of five professional development sessions held this summer by the Office of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction. The fifth and final Institute at Chávez High School featured sessions on the use of technology for content development and classroom instruction, as well as sessions on project-based learning, classroom management, and reading and writing workshops.

“Teachers are loving the opportunity for choice,” said Chief Secondary Curriculum and Instruction Officer Annie Wolfe. “We designed the Institute so that teachers could start off the morning with their peers in core-content areas, but then have the opportunity to choose late morning and afternoon sessions based on their skill level and needs.”

Teachers attending the Institute, like Sterling High School teacher Bobby Beatty, said they enjoyed the district’s new approach to professional development. “I liked that I got to choose what sessions were the most helpful for me, which will allow me to better help my students in the coming year.”

The Institute also provided teachers with hands-on training on the PowerUp: HUB, HISD’s online teaching and learning platform, which is launching districtwide during the 2015–2016 school year. Teachers new to HISD were also invited to the Institute to learn more about the HUB, web 2.0 tools, and district assessments.

“This session was very helpful for me, particularly coming in from out of state to a new district,” said Amanda Sanders, who will be teaching at Westbury High School.

“It was very friendly,” said Denea Thomas, who will be teaching at Lamar High School. “Even though I am new to the district, I don’t feel like it. I feel like I have been with these folks for a long time. They are very friendly, and I feel very welcomed.”

In total, more than 2,000 secondary teachers attended the Transformation Institute this summer to better prepare for the coming school year. Future trainings for teachers of grades 6–12 will include early dismissal, evening and Saturday sessions, online tutorials , and open labs that will focus on utilizing the HUB for lesson planning, professional learning, and collaborating with their peers.