May 19, 2015 , Issue #4

Summer Workshops!
Register now! Spots are filling quickly.


June 22nd-26th

Location: Mayacamas Ranch, Calistoga, CA

Learn More 


July 29th-30th


Location: Westridge School

Facilitator: Ron Ritchhart 

 Learn More 

Teaching Foundations (SF) 

August 3rd-6th


Location: Jewish Community High School of the Bay

 Learn More 

Mastering Group Facilitation (SF)  (only 4 spots left!)

August 5th-7th


Location: Jewish Community HIgh School of the Bay 

Facilitator: David Barkan

Learn More 

 Mastering Group Facilitation (LA)

August 10th-12th


Location: Windward School, LA

Facilitator: David Barkan

 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, and we'll soon be changing our name to the "California Teacher Development Collaborative."

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.

A Message from the Executive Director, Janet McGarvey

Perhaps you remember that some years ago the words "in-service training days" often invoked some pretty strong negative responses and emotions.  It is a relief to note that the days of irrelevant content and condescending deliveries are not at all common in today's world of professional development for teachers. Research and the discerning use of precious financial resources have resulted in better professional growth opportunities than ever before. It's exciting!  So what makes professional development "stick"?  That is the question we pose in this fourth edition of the BATDC Buzz.


Judith Little writes, "Professional development never stops and is embedded in teachers' daily lives" (1993).  Most teachers are naturally reflective. They care deeply about their effectiveness with students and seek opportunities for feedback, improvement, and innovation. With encouragement and support from their colleagues and administrative leaders, they routinely engage in a variety of learning experiences, adding to their wealth of experience and expertise throughout their careers. Research conducted in recent years corroborates what we know intuitively: that good teaching and learning for adults is very similar to good teaching and learning for children. Choice, differentiation, and connection to prior knowledge and real work matter a great deal. The best learning is collaborative, sustained, experiential, and grounded.


So what makes teacher development highly effective over time? To me, the answer is that it is transformative. It produces fundamental shifts in understanding and engenders genuine excitement that comes from the discovery of things that are profound and rich with potential for application.  It promotes instruction and practices that are ambitious and provides opportunities to challenge assumptions, increase creativity, and experiment with new ideas. This takes time.  Often the most profound learning comes from ideas that need to be adapted, refined, tested, and linked to other ideas and practices over time so that they most effectively promote student learning and advance the goals of the teacher and the school.


In addition, effective teacher learning is informed by data and research. It offers the opportunity to benefit from studies that deepen our knowledge of the human brain, child development, and disciplinary content.  And finally, professional inquiry is best done collaboratively.  While teachers shape innovative ideas to suit their students' needs and their own teaching styles, they find that in sharing insights, questions, and knowledge with colleagues -- within their school as well as with those from other schools -- the rewards of high quality professional experiences are far richer and more likely to endure.

Learning Together as Educators
By Susan Deemer, Katherine Delmar Burke School
Teachers from independent schools all over the Bay Area joined together to explore the idea of making thinking visible with Ron Ritchhart of Project Zero.

One of the many conundrums I have experienced in the 20 years that I have been a teacher is the fact that I can spend most of my day in the company of many different groups of people, yet leave my desk at the end of a busy day with a sense of isolation. Like many teachers, I spend the majority of the time in my day implementing the ideas I have developed about what teaching and learning will look like in my classroom. Unfortunately, the development of these ideas is often done in solitude during my planning time while my colleagues are teaching. Because of this, I continually strive to find ways to reduce my sense of isolation by seeking opportunities to connect with others regarding the art and science of teaching.

This year, one of those opportunities came in the form of my participation in the BATDC's Making Thinking Visible workshop series facilitated by Ron Ritchhart, a senior research associate at Harvard's "Project Zero." This workshop drew my attention for two main reasons. First, it asked for a team of teachers from each participating school to work on a collaborative goal at their site related to making our students' thinking visible and second, each team of teachers would then spend two sessions meeting with teams from other schools to share and learn from one another.

Although I had many amazing 'a-ha' moments throughout the process, what struck me most was hearing how other teachers think about their instruction and assessment. While we were working on how to make our students' thinking more visible, we were actually going through a process that allowed each of us to make our own thinking about teaching more visible! As a result, I felt connected to a group of teachers in a profound and meaningful way. I hope to model this type of work with more of my colleagues at Burke's. I am excited to discover how we can enrich our connections with one another as educators by making our own thinking about teaching more visible as we strive to create more meaningful learning environments for our students.
Professional Development That Sticks
By Jonathan Howland, Urban School of SF

Some professional development activities are like fast food: appealing on the menu and stimulating in the moment but wanting for genuine nutrition. Other activities are transformative. Most fall someplace along a spectrum between.


What makes professional development catalyzing, nourishing, 'sticky'? What can we generalize about the kinds of endeavors that have lasting value?


Not much, I say.


Because what makes for meaningful professional growth has less to do with what's offered - or how, or where, or when - than what the 'doer' brings to the table. Less to do with what's served and more to do with the appetite. Less to do with the answers than with the questions.


'PD that Sticks':

  • Answers a question, addresses a goal, or speaks to a need.
  • Builds teams and teamwork - either because participants do the PD as a group, and/or because they are consciously seeking to improve a team's capacity at their school.
  • Flows from and feeds into a larger culture of professional growth at the school, including systematic habits of reflection and evaluation. 

This isn't easy: a fast-paced school environment puts the squeeze on the time and attention requisite to surfacing one's questions and knowing one's needs. A related complication: most of us are inclined and encouraged, most of the time, to play to our strengths - while the best professional development often requires us to 'dribble with the off-hand,' to confront something hard and learn something new.


If there's a 'magic bullet' in PD, it's in assembling a faculty and staff of educators who are committed to lifelong learning and to professional growth, and in providing manifold opportunities to enhance and extend their learning and development. A school culture that actively facilitates 'surfacing one's questions and knowing one's needs' is equally vital.


Which is to say, no magic at all - but rather a design: values, practices, people, habits, and systems that work together to engineer and re-engineer a school's DNA for professional growth and improvement.