By Peter Jovanovich

While parents and students enjoyed the great summer weather this year, the Rye City School District was engaged in professional learning projects to improve the quality of instruction. As Dr. Eric Byrne said at the September School Board meeting, “We engaged in a tremendous amount of professional development this summer.”

Among the projects that teachers and administrators engaged in, as explained by Sheryl Goffman, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, were Active Con, a one-day seminar that focused on collaboration and exploration, and the Summer Literacy Institute, where over 60 teachers attended and local Rye authors, such as Annabelle Monahan, shared their insights on writing well.

Goffman was particularly enthusiastic about the District’s collaboration with the Writing Revolution, which teaches the Hochman method of writing instruction. In a nutshell, the Hochman method teaches “the carpentry of writing—the ability to craft clear, complete sentences; to build coherent, organized paragraphs; to assemble logical, cohesive essays grounded in relevant evidence from complex texts.” Ms. Hoffman said that this method was particularly effective with students finding difficulty writing.

Finally, Several Rye teachers attended workshops led by author Lucy Calkins on reading and Teachers College at Columbia University, and others attended the Yale Center for Social Emotional Learning.

Dr. Byrne shared some of what he has learned from over 120 interviews with members of the Rye City School District community. First, it is apparent that teachers and administrators “want us to clearly state the vision of the District, and narrow the goals to fit that vision.” Further, he acknowledged that “we are having difficult conversations” and that the training this summer was useful in making those conversations productive and collaborative.

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