Professional Development Day: Redefined

Where else do business executives and high school educators meet to discuss ideas that will improve students’ chances for success?  On Tuesday, January 29th, the Corporate Work Study Program organized Cristo Rey teachers and staff for a joint Professional Development Day with business partner supervisors. The agenda: explore ways to structure and support CRSM students so that they can demonstrate proactive behaviors and initiative in multiple domains and contexts.

Representatives and supervisors from thirty-five companies attended and contributed to a program that was described by one corporate supervisor as “a privilege – a chance to provide recommendations and input that will have a direct and positive impact on students’ lives is a rare opportunity.”

The day consisted of guided activities designed to inspire the free flow of ideas, strategies and interventions that foster proactive behaviors and initiative. Anecdotal stories describing challenges that students have faced, and how they coped with them, were used to open up discussions about the methodologies that support the goals of both the corporate business partners and the academic environment. Teachers and supervisors looked at some common questions and challenges they all face when working with students and co-workers, such as:

  • What are ways to encourage students to speak up when they are confused or unclear?
  • How do we teach young people to try to problem-solve for themselves?
  • What behaviors lead to positive impressions, and how do we encourage those?
  • When has a student impressed you, and why?
  • How do we inspire students to learn about different subjects and careers?
  • How to foster better time management?

The group shared ideas on what “proactive behaviors” and “initiative” looks like in both the corporate world as well as the academic world.  Many similarities were uncovered, as you might expect. Furthermore, the group discussed how these behaviors carry forward into college and life.

Alyssa Voigt said in her February article in Edutopia, “The term professional development is one that many educators have come to hate—it’s automatically equated with a lot of “sit and get” and a waste of precious time.” Not so at Cristo Rey St. Martin.