Professional Learning Communities
CPA is an official Professional Learning Community (PLC). PLC's undergo an ongoing process in which educators work collaboratively in recurring cycles of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve. PLC's operate under the assumption that the key to improved learning for students is continuous job-embedded learning for educators.
In a Professional Learning Community, collaboration represents a systematic process in which teachers work together interdependently in order to impact their classroom practice in ways that will lead to better results for their students, for their team, and for their school. CPA provides job-embedded collaboration time for all faculty, recognizing the need for educators to constantly evaluate and improve upon the following questions in the learning process.
Four Key Questions of a PLC
- What do we expect students to learn? (Curriculum Planning)
- How will we know when they have learned it? (Assessment)
- How will we respond when students don't learn it? (Intervention)
- How will we support students who already know it? (Extension)
- Shared Planning Periods
- Designated Weekly Faculty Collaboration Time
- Faculty Mentor Program
- Full-Time Educational Technology Integrationists in Every School
- Trust-Based Relationship Intervention
- The Collaborative
- Project Lead the Way
Teachers across each school and department have shared planning periods built into their weekly schedules. This is a time for teachers to discuss student results, share successful strategies, best practices, and ask questions. This collaboration enriches the student experience as teachers are continuously planning curriculum, assessing, intervening, or extending on their behalf.
Faculty and staff in grades 6-12 are provided with one hour of weekly faculty-wide collaboration time, every Wednesday morning. This weekly time is valuable in that it addresses vertical integration throughout academic disciplines in middle and upper school. The Academy places value in teacher connection and the sharing of best practices, so students begin with a late start on Wednesday mornings.
Mentors make a proven difference in teacher retention. According to a federal study by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 92 percent of first-year teachers assigned a mentor returned to their classroom. Academic Dean Dr. Dawn Ruff, Associate Head of School-Education Marcia Sutton, and Director of Human Resources Andrea Emigh collaborated to build the CPA Mentor Program.
In June, new teachers are paired with a mentor and meet for orientation. Guidelines, procedures, and even classroom strategies are shared between mentor and mentee throughout the year. This has proven to increase the quality of on-boarding in all four schools across the Academy.
Key faculty and staff in each school have been formally trained in Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI), an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. Developed by the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development, the intervention is based on years of attachment, sensory processing, and neuroscience research, however, the heartbeat of TBRI is connection.
Application of this training for families is available the first Wednesday of every month at Empowered Parenting, sessions of discussions on TBRI led by trained staff member Dr. Marcia Sutton, Associate Head of School-Education. Sessions are free and open to all CPA parents.
CPA facilitates The Collaborative- an annual, local conference for educators and aspiring leaders. Strengthening Academy professionals, the conference builds connection and relationships with other local educators through idea exchange, common vision, and best practices. Positioned as an industry leader in Christian education, CPA hosts this conference to both learn and share with other educators.
The Collaborative features expert-led discussions and workshops on growing in teaching, learning, and leadership excellence. Led by local innovators, sessions offer attendees insight into topics ranging from storytelling and worldview in the classroom, to technology integration and methodology.
A STEM-based program, Project Lead the Way equips STEAM faculty on running an innovative classroom with special resources, programs, and technology to assist student experience. All STEM faculty in the middle and upper school have been formally trained and equipped as Project Lead the Way educators.