Staff Professional Development

Winter Residency

Each February, the Hamilton District Christian High staff takes two days back-to-back to dig deeply into professional development activities. This set of PD days has come to be known as the “Winter Residency.”

Over the past year and a half, we have been focusing our learning mission on-going “Deeper-In and Further-Out.” We desire our students to experience deep learning where meaning is made, connections are created, and purpose for learning is understood. We believe that Project Based Learning is an excellent pedagogy for our staff to use in challenging our students to go deeper.

Through in-depth inquiry; critique and revision opportunities; involving community experts; presenting to authentic audiences; having the opportunity for voice and choice, and students becoming their own project managers; we believe that comprehension and skill development go deep.

Our Mission Statement is Cultivating Character through Learning for Lives of Service to God. We think that cultivating character and serving God compels us to bring our learning Further Out into the community, engaging experts and audiences, and finding ways to bless those in our city and world through our learning.

Deeper In and Further Out are strongly linked. As students take their learning Further Out, they end up getting Deeper In. And as students go Deeper In they often find they are pulled Further Out, coming to understand how their learning is meaningful in the world.

The focus of Deeper In and Further Out has guided our professional development over the past year and a half. This year at our Winter Residency we created opportunities to go Deeper In and Further Out as a staff.

We went Deeper In through professional development workshops. We engaged with strategies and research on how to help students with diverse learning needs engage with Project Based Learning. Building on this workshop, we will be continuing to work as a staff team towards implementing strategies and shaping projects to help all learners go Deeper In.

During the residency, staff also had the chance to pursue Further Out learning opportunities by taking the time to meet with experts, scoping out field trip locations, and researching authentic audiences for projects.

Field trips, experts, and authentic audiences in Project Based Learning often lead to incredible learning opportunities where students have the chance to connect with experts in the field to ask questions, learn about how the knowledge and skills are used in the work world, and be exposed to the cutting edge of information in that field. Making these connections can be challenging and time-consuming for teachers, so it was great to have time and space for this during Winter Residency.

In addition to these specific Deeper In and Further Out sessions, small group collaboration sessions happened where teachers had different opportunities for project improvement and development. Examples of these sessions included developing new projects and creating digital assessment tools.

We do a lot of work during the residency, and it can be very intense. We also try to build some fun into our time together to enrich our sense of collegiality and community. We spent time in devotions, reflecting on God’s goodness, praying for our school and students, and singing together.

There is a richness of expertise, creativity and desire to be excellent in our staff here at Hamilton District Christian High and it is wonderful to have so many people involved in leading and helping our staff team to grow. We look forward to a great semester ahead and are thankful for the time we had to grow and work together during the Residency.

CBloemendalChristy Bloemendal
Vice Principal, Hamilton District Christian High