I think most people dread the term “summer school,” but not me. I get excited for summer school because for me summer school is BSM’s Summer Academy for Innovative Learning or SAIL. A professional development opportunity for teachers and administrators from around the Twin Cities, SAIL runs for two weeks every June.
With a choice of sessions each morning and each afternoon, I like to think of SAIL as a choose-your-own-adventure of learning. Seriously, classes are offered in everything from technology integration to teaching and learning innovations to service to global perspectives to STEM and more. This choice of classes lets attendees pick what they want to learn and what they think will have the most impact on them as an educator.
But it gets even better than that! The courses are taught both by representatives from different areas in the tech world – we’ve had people from Apple and Pear Deck come teach sessions – and by educators from around the Twin Cities and right here at BSM. In fact, last summer, BSM art teacher Nan Onkka helped people learn how to create stop-motion animation, BSM speech coach Maura Brew taught a class on public speaking, BSM English teacher Kaia Preus showcased the process of sketchnoting, BSM Spanish teacher Mary Murray offered multiple classes for world language teachers to hone their craft, and BSM science teacher Mark Peterson’s classes focused on assessment. I love getting the chance to attend these classes not just because of what I learn but because I get to see my colleagues in action!
SAIL is not just for BSM. Last summer, over 330 educators from 35 schools gathered to learn and collaborate. Of course, these people all attended for the learning, but I think that BSM’s hospitality and efforts at affordability make SAIL something that can truly be enjoyed by all. BSM’s student-volunteers offer free, onsite babysitting, so that teachers who are parents can attend. Registration can be priced by school, so individual teachers can take as many classes as they want. Plus, we always offer courses that meet the MN State Relicensure Requirements, meaning that any teacher can attend and get the classes they need for the license renewal.
To make this all come together, teachers from BSM and local area schools are invited to propose courses in late March. Then in May, folks start registering, and by mid-June, the school is filling up with teachers, like me, who are ready and excited for summer school!
This commitment to professional development and continued learning is one of the many reasons I love teaching at Benilde-St. Margaret’s. Teachers are able to grow and hone their craft which then directly affects the educational experience we provide our students every day.
Registration for this year’s SAIL opens next Tuesday, May 1.