Children learn best when teachers are learning too. When a teacher improves their craft, the child benefits from their learning. Lessons become more engaging and targeted to meet the specific needs of the children in the class.
In addition to academic success and Regents exams, one of the criteria to graduate from Queens Collegiate is for each student to have 50 community service hours each year that they attend QC. This serves many purposes. It gives students an opportunity to give back in their community. Students learn about a topic that they may not traditionally delve deeply into in a traditional class. For instance, one of my former students is very interested in people affected with AIDS. She has gone well beyond the traditional lessons as to what AIDS is and how it affects lives. She volunteers at a local community organization in the Bronx that assists people with AIDS. She hears their stories and helps to the best of her ability through this organization. She is currently raising money for the AIDSWalk as this is something she feels strongly about. This opportunity to serve in the community is giving her the ability to grow in emotionally and intellectually while gaining practical work skills that will be essential for her future employment.
Teacher professional development and student community service hours are connected, as they are times when both groups are learning outside of the traditional classroom.
To facilitate teacher learning and community service, we are considering an alternative schedule. This means that 4 days of the week school would be from approximately 8:30-3 or 3:15 while one day (maybe Wednesday) would be from 8:30-1:30. During the “free” afternoon hours, students would be able to match up with a community organization to volunteer, while teachers meet for professional development and learning.
What do you think about this as a member of the QC community?