By Zachary Del Nero
and Joshua Olivier-Mason
E ducators in the Lexington Public Schools experienced a professional development reboot;in;2014;when;the;district’s;Office;of
Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Learning
reimagined the landscape for such programs.
The result was a full day of workshops in fall
2015 run by administrators, faculty and staff in a
Together, the event seems destined to become a
tradition in the district.
Our goal in this article is twofold: describing
our experiences as both teachers and students
during Lexington Learns Together and promoting
professional development that comes from within
a district. This model of district or schoolwide PD
honors the expertise of faculty and staff — and pays
dividends well beyond the day itself.
Fueled by the philosophy of educators teaching
educators, the workshop model is authentic,
invigorating and good for school culture and morale.
The enthusiastic Twitter feed generated from that day
(#lexingtonlearns15) includes the voices of educators
from throughout the district: administrators, general
and special education teachers, liaisons, counselors
‘Session A is underway!’
While waiting outside the doorway to our
classroom on a bright morning in October, we
overheard snippets of conversations, such as “I had
Clutching their schedules, the students — our
fellow educators, actually, but students this day —
thinned out, we turned to the eager faces and began
the last session before lunch: “Podcasting in the
Every fall, this scene plays out on university
campuses all over the country. It is now a familiar one
for those working in the Lexington Public Schools.
The day consisted of three 75-minute sessions.
Educators had submitted proposals to offer
workshops for a range of courses that varied widely,
Participants signed up for sessions based on interest
and availability. With 147 sessions offered, the
difficulty;was;in;deciding;what;not to take.
A two-way learning experience
We co-taught the “Podcasting in the Humanities
for many reasons. It was energizing to teach together
and to work with teachers outside the department.
Lexington Learns Together created bonds between
various faculty members and administrators, making
cross-disciplinary collaboration one of the day’s most
Giving participants the opportunity to make
something was a crucial ingredient in the success of
simply tell people about podcasting.
we ran a quick tutorial on the software — the
same software we provide for our sophomores.
Participants found a poem online to read aloud
to complement their recording, import it into
During this stage, everyone in the room was
working together and sharing his or her progress.
teaching based on real-time feedback from fellow
In traditional PD settings, teachers can be the
most resistant students; a common refrain runs
of the problem is the term itself — professional
development. The phrase sounds like something out
of a management textbook.
Professional development, as term and concept,
was popularized in the mid to late 20th century, and
Tim Walker described the problem in NEA Today,
“For many classroom teachers, the words summon
bad memories: the valuable instruction time that was
wasted listening to a so-called ‘expert’ who hasn’t
active learning. Much current research recommends
project-based approaches, collaboration and student-
centered classrooms. Why do these ideas go out
the window when it’s time to schedule professional
Teachers are encouraged to help students pursue
their own lines of inquiry. Why should we exclude
ourselves from that experience?
The Lexington Learns Together model offers
other school districts a chance to create PD that
doesn’t feel like PD. Lexington Learns Together is
easily exportable. Your experts are your educators.
the needs and interests of their district, you provide a
professional learning experience uniquely tailored to
It’s OK to have fun
Please turn to Lexington/Page 15
Fueled by the philosophy of
educators teaching educators,
the workshop model is authentic,
invigorating and good for school
culture and morale.
JOIN THE THOUSANDS OF SALEM
STATE ALUMNI WHO ARE LEADERS
IN EDUCATION BY ENROLLING IN
ONE OF OUR GRADUATE PROGRAMS.
Choose from our master’s degrees, educator
licensure programs, graduate certificates
and CAGS in Education, depending on your
credentialing and content–area needs.