Reflections by Benjamin Johnson, Reading Teacher, KIPP Chicago
1. How many times have you attended KIPP School Summit (KSS)?
The past year was my first KSS – Orlando, 2012.
2. How do you explain the week to your friends?
When I came back from my first KSS, I sarcastically told my friends that I had gone on a teaching-vision quest. Although, KSS obviously doesn’t involve traveling out into the wilderness and fasting, KSS is a bit like a 21st century version of a vision quest. By going on a vision quest, a person tries to gain insight into their life and the world. KSS embodies that idea, except instead of going out into nature by yourself, you are getting a chance to try to increase your understanding by talking with some of the best educators in the United States. By the end of the week at KSS, you come away motivated for the upcoming year, with much more insight about yourself and your teaching, and with a better understanding about how to create a successful classroom.
3. Describe your favorite KSS moment and why it stands out:
During my first KSS, I got a chance to present a problem that I was having with authentic assessment to a group of other KIPP teachers and administrators. For 30 minutes that group helped me brainstorm solutions to this problem and offered up countless ideas that I had not considered. Their ideas and critiques elucidated what I needed to do to make sure that the assessment in my classroom was more authentic, efficient, and meaningful. This conversation at KSS completely changed my approach to the upcoming year and reminded me that I joined KIPP to be part of a team that would push me to become a better teacher.
4. What advice do you have to new-to-KIPP teachers attending for the first time?
Talk to everyone that you can. I felt that all the teachers I talked to at KSS gave me new ideas or tools for the upcoming year. I was reminded that all of these big KIPPsters had advice that I could learn from.
5. How do you decide how to spend your time at KSS?
As a first year teacher there are thousands of things to experience at KSS, from interesting speakers to informational sessions, from student performances to getting to know your new coworkers. I found it pretty overwhelming. I think that as a teacher that is new to KIPP you have to sometimes slow down and think about what is going to be most helpful in making your students successful for the upcoming year; sometimes that might mean making sure that you find time to spend with your coworkers because having a cohesive team is important, other times that might mean swapping sessions last-minute if you find one that better fits your needs for the upcoming year.
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