The CASDA Roundtable Series expanded significantly at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year enabling more than 200 educators from throughout the Capital Region to engage with research, identify best practices and develop strategies to improve student outcomes in their district. CASDA Executive Director Dr. James Butterworth explained that “educators can learn from research and regulation, but the best way for them to grow is through interaction and collaboration with fellow educators.” Guided by this rationale, CASDA will facilitate four professional learning communities during the 2017-18 school year joining a slate of continuing offerings which includes groups for principals, Athletic Directors, Special Education Coordinators, Instructional Technology Specialists, ELL Program Directors and alternative educators.
New groups will be convened to support literacy in the content areas, master scheduling, elementary STEM instruction and alternative education administrators. The Literacy in the Content Areas Roundtable will be facilitated by Susan Stoya, a career educator who served as Director of Curriculum and Instruction in Amsterdam and Ballston Spa. She has extensive experience in literacy instruction and is uniquely positioned to help teachers better understand how literacy and academic vocabulary development relate to mastery in specific content areas. Examining the relationships between these concepts will enable participants to improve their students’ ability to master complex subject matter and write clearly and expressively across the curriculum.
The Elementary STEM Roundtable debuts on the heels on a successful summer conference that explored strategies to move beyond traditional elementary science pedagogy and embrace a “Next-Gen” approach. Coordinators Agnes Zellin and Betsy Smith will guide educators through the updated NYS Science standards and introduce instructional concepts that are consistent with the Framework for K-12 Science Education. This approach is predicated on practices, crosscutting concepts and core ideas that emphasize links to other subject areas. This helps students think creatively, relationally and analytically as they develop effective critical thinking skills that support growth in STEM subjects and other academic areas.
The Master Scheduling Roundtable will assist building level administrators, guidance counselors and central registrars in creating an effective master schedule. Facilitators Steve Schuyler and Terry Barlow will guide participants through the nuts and bolts of balancing the various concerns and contingencies of teachers, students and staff to create a seamless plan that works for all stakeholders.
The Alternative Education Roundtable, led by Gregg Weinlein, is adding a second series targeted toward educational administrators. This group will examine policy, program design, budgeting and resources and strategies to support instructors working in alternative education classrooms. The practices and experiences shared by this group will enable each participant to bring valuable perspective back to their district’s alternative education program.
CASDA’s commitment to collaboration among educators is most fully realized in the Roundtable Series. These professional learning communities provide teachers and administrators access to the field’s most valuable resource – their peers. Through examination of research and robust dialog with their fellow educators, these groups and their participants become engines of progress, supporting the dissemination of best practices and improving student outcomes in districts throughout the region.