The English Department went on a two-day annual retreat to the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove on Friday, September 10. The teachers sought new ways to teach and discuss drama, and addressed how to read plays and better teach their students about drama.
The teachers have held the retreat for the past 10 years and have found it helpful every time. Selecting a certain aspect or topic as a focus helped the teachers get specific information and focus on aiding the students in that area.
The English teachers left after school for the conference, heading to the beach right away for bonding and appetizers. Department Chair Keren Robertson always puts a lot of effort into the event and has always looked forward to the trip.
“It’s like a camp for teachers,” Robertson said. “It builds relationships and we always have a good time.”
English teacher Galen Rosenberg was excited as well.
“I don’t get to spend much time with my colleagues and it’s really nice to get a chunk of time like this,” Rosenberg said.
In addition to promoting teacher bonding, the trip was helpful in providing the English Department with an opportunity to work on its teaching methods.
“We work together to make all English classes as good as they can be,” Rosenberg said. “We do the work we ask the students to do at the retreat and this helps us to see more clearly the challenges the students face, helping us to be more creative [with teaching].”
The teachers focused on increasing their understanding of the chosen material and finding new ways to teach it. They also spent much of their time constructing grading rubrics for this year and the following year.
Before the group left for the trip, the department divided into separate groups. Each group was assigned different acts to perform in front of one another. The purpose of this activity was to learn about teaching drama through the performances in front of their colleagues.
“We [performed] our plays on Friday night and later talked about it and analyzed what happened to better teach the students,” Robertson said. The teachers got the inside perspective on how the students learn and the most efficient way to increase learning capabilities.
“The quality of work from freshmen to senior year is impressive,” Rosenberg said. “I think a large product of that is due to the work we do together at the retreat.”