January 7, 2015 , Issue #1
Upcoming Workshops
Friday, January 16th


Keynote: Dr. Ann McElaney-Johnson

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Tuesday, January 20th


Location: Jewish Community High School of the Bay

Keynote: Erica Fox

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Designing Writing Assessments to Improve Student Writing (SF)

Monday, January 26th


Location: The Bay School of SF

Facilitator: Kate Moore
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Thursday, January 29th


Location: Westside Neighborhood School

Facilitator: Karen Malin

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Thursday, February 12th


Location: The Bay School of San Francisco

Facilitator: Erin Murphy

Learn More

What is the BATDC?

The Bay Area Teacher Development Collaborative (BATDC), is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing professional growth opportunities for teachers and administrators from independent schools. Its member schools represent the diverse range of small and large elementary, middle, and high schools from all over the greater San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles areas.

What is the mission of the organization?

The aim of the BATDC is to 1) Promote enriching professional development opportunities, 2) Support collegiality and cooperation among teachers and schools, and 3) Inspire teachers to become educational leaders.

Why does a "Bay Area" organization also operate in Los Angeles?

The BATDC started in the San Francisco Bay Area in the year 2000, and has since grown to include a network of over sixty independent schools in the region. In 2012, a group of LA area heads of school asked if the BATDC could replicate its proven model by launching a branch of its operations in Southern California. Now, following the completion of the two-year pilot program, and with a thriving group of over twenty member schools in Southern California, it might be time to consider a name change! 

How can I take part in the BATDC's offerings?
1) If your school isn't already a member, encourage them to join here

2) Register for our upcoming events, and keep an eye out for our spring schedule of workshops.

3) Get in touch and let us know what kind of professional development opportunities you're looking for.

4) Let us help you leverage the power of the network by connecting you with colleagues from other schools. 

5) Join our mailing list to stay up to date on all our future workshops and events.

Welcome to the BATDC Buzz!
Welcome to our first edition of the BATDC newsletter! In "The BATDC Buzz" we will bring you updates about the Collaborative and articles that we hope you will find thought-provoking. We are grateful for the support of so many educators who believe in the power of professional collaboration and look forward to highlighting the varied ways such learning and sharing takes place in your school and beyond. The BATDC is committed to supporting such efforts by providing excellent workshops and programs. We encourage you to visit our website at batdc.org for a full list of upcoming events. While you're there, be sure to also check out our blog, including my recent post on Challenging the Myth of Exceptionalism. We look forward to your continued involvement in the BATDC! 
- Janet McGarvey,
  BATDC Executive Director
What's the Secret Sauce?
By Catherine Hunter, Head of SF Friends School and BATDC Board Chair

Why collaborate? With the landscape of professional development a veritable smorgasbord of opportunities, why are we so utterly in love with teacher collaboration?


Because it works.


Getting teachers and administrators out of their silos and into shared learning experiences has been thoroughly researched as the most effective way to  profoundly impact the quality of teaching at our schools. "Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience confirm that the brain prioritizes the formation and storage of memories that have social-emotional content, context, and meaning. Research in the field of psychology reveals that the opportunity to engage with peers is the central condition for creativity and problem solving" (SFFS Academic Dean, Gwen Rino). Since we know this to be true of our students, why are so many of our own professional development experiences devoid of opportunity to learn in community?


Collaboration guarantees intellectual nourishment. When we are learning with one another, as our students do in our schools, we are naturally given to sharing resources, forming professional relationships, and pushing ourselves and each other to create the very best work. For the BATDC, these experiences aren't an accidental by-product of our workshops -- the hasty exchange of cards and e-mails after a presentation -- but a central purpose of our workshops. For 15 years, teachers in the Bay Area, and now in Southern California, praise the connections they have made and the valuable relationships they have formed. Not only do the relationships last but they also serve as the foundation for inter-school sharing of resources and ideas. It makes all of our schools better.


A few summers ago I enrolled in a BATDC facilitation workshop with David Barkan. The room was filled to bursting with folks like me who had presided over any number of meetings that had run off the rails, or been stymied by the faculty meeting aerated by yawns of indifference!  Certainly we learned much from our skilled facilitation leader, but even deeper learning developed through role plays and turbo-powered creative problem solving. My new-found relationship with a colleague at a neighboring school led to several lengthy conversations and a pick-up-the-phone-and-share-ideas relationship that bears fruit to this day.  We started as colleagues at a workshop, and morphed into friends who support one another professionally. Without question, our schools have benefited from our "co-laboring" at the BATDC, and we'd both tell you our meetings run more smoothly as well.


So why collaborate? We are all better together, and that's good for us and ultimately for our students.

The Value of Personal Connection
By Liz Resnick, Director of Studies, Harvard-Westlake School

There are innumerable areas in which teachers and administrators need to be continually learning, growing and developing.  What are the best ways to integrate technology into the classroom, differentiate instruction for student learners, stay abreast of research on best instructional practices and cognitive science, and become even better attuned to the diverse students that populate our schools? For leaders, the questions similarly abound: What are the best practices in creating school cultures where teacher-leaders can learn and grow together?  How do we provide opportunities for teachers to lead from every seat?  These are but a representative sample of ways in which teachers and school leaders need to stay current, share ideas that work, and grow professionally.


One of the ways we can help one another grow is sharing our expertise and experience across our Los Angeles independent school community.  The BATDC (or the "Collaborative") is a wonderful organization that has recently added professional programming for the greater L.A. independent school community after nearly a decade of serving our Bay Area compatriots;  teachers and administrators at Harvard-Westlake have already taken advantage of these opportunities across a fairly wide spectrum of topics.


I attended the Women in Leadership symposia at Windward School in January 2014 with five colleagues from Harvard-Westlake.  In addition to hearing relevant, insightful keynotes from Debbie Reed, former Head of School at Polytechnic in Pasadena and Alison Snowden, CFO of the Huntington Library, learning from handful of wonderful heads of school during discussions, and meeting other women in leadership roles from around the city, it spurred us to create our own 'Lean In' group on campus. We have met together, talked openly about our aspirations, and supported one another in our careers. Colleague, Julia Grody, notes, "Attending the symposia together created an informal but meaningful link between me and the other attendees, from our school and across LA.  Sometimes I'll mull over an issue on my own for weeks, and then when I pass a fellow-attendee in the hall, I realize:  "Of course -- I could talk to HER about this!'"


Teaching and leading schools is dynamic, meaningful, and ever-evolving work, and that's why we love it!  And to continue to make our schools as rich, nurturing and relevant, we need to work together.  The BATDC offers opportunities to do just that, across a broad range of topics, and our schools, and our students, are better for it.  

Make Others Shine!
By Crystal Land, Assistant Head/Academic Dean, Head-Royce School

Does collaboration truly make for better outcomes? For those of us who have been teaching and leading in schools for many years, sometimes it seems easier to just do things solo. What's the real evidence to show that curriculum, institutional challenges, and student outcomes will be enhanced by working together? Here are a few resources to further our thinking on the topic.


* Recent research proves that the collaborative pair or the energized group creates a vibrant dynamic that leads to enhanced creative thinking. In the article, The End of Genius, Joshua Wolf Shenk suggests, "...the lone genius is a myth that has outlived its usefulness. Fortunately, a more truthful model is emerging: the creative network, as with the crowd-sourced Wikipedia or the writer's room at 'The Daily Show.' This is just one piece of an impressive body of research in social psychology and the new field of social neuroscience, which contends that individual agency often pales next to the imperatives of a collective."


* Randy Nelson, the former dean of Pixar University supports these ideas as well in this Edutopia video.  As a member and leader at both Pixar and Dreamworks, Nelson believes that our best outcomes originate from true collaboration where we take someone's work and "plus" it to make it better. He wants schools to go beyond "cooperation," where we manage to work without getting in each other's way, to true collaboration that amplifies and expands our ideas and work products. He compares collaboration to a highly effective improv team: when one person sends the other an idea, the partner must take it and make it better. Rejecting someone's good idea is not even an option. 


* A final example of truly effective collaboration is happening at High Tech High in San Diego, a school where collaboration and innovation are the norm. This short video illustrates how two teachers collaborate in science and art to deepen student learning through a content-rich interdisciplinary project. Students learn about blood in science and make their learning visible through art and technology. Teachers plan and assess student work in tandem and help students develop skills for future team work.


From start ups and traditional businesses to classrooms and school structures, working in close collaboration will make workplaces and schools creative and more dynamic places. Let's figure out how to "plus" one another in our schools to take each other's ideas and make them, and our partners, shine.