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A new way of learning
Professional Development Day offers learning for instructors
Baseball caps and sweatpants are not typical dress code for the faculty at the Center for Career Services. However, during the Professional Development Day on Nov. 6, the staff were encouraged to wear casual attire.
It would soon become clear as to why, and the cosmetology staff no doubt were grateful they had grabbed the protective capes they use in their classroom.
The lesson for the day — a reminder of what it is like to be a student and how to be a more effective instructor with more organized planning. The day would include a presentation and move on to an interactive, and messy, hands-on activity.
The Professional Development Day was a part of a series of workshops the center created to improve their methods for classroom planning and collaborative work among staff. The goal has been twofold: build a connective learning environment and develop a shared language and practices. This day would be an exercise on just how that is done.
The day began in the campus conference room where auto body and detailing instructor Paul Casagrande shared with his colleagues the methods he uses in developing and implementing lesson plans and assessing his students’ progress. All of this is documented in a form created by Career Services called a Thinking Sheet. The form provides teachers a means to outline their classroom instruction in a quick, easy-to-read way.
After Mr. Casagrande went through a typical lesson he had done with his students it was time for his colleagues to go back to school.
The group made its way to the automotive shop, where there was brown paper hung up on two walls. Two buckets, one filled with green water the other red, waited for them.
The objective for this lesson was for the staff to learn, based on Mr. Casagrande’s instructions, how to use a spray paint machine. In this instance the machine was filled with dyed water to minimize the mess. Mr. Casagrande walked his colleagues through the machine’s use just as if he was working with his students.
He spoke of the three knobs on the machine, one to adjust the fluid, the second the air, and the third, the shape of the spray.
“This is an instrument that has to be used right,” Mr. Casagrande said, or else the results would be an uneven, botched paint job.
Emergency Medical Services teacher Hanifah Muhammad was the first volunteer. She stepped forward and gingerly picked up the tool.
After a few uneven squirts with the machine, a regular spray of water came out and landed in neat patterns on the brown paper.
She received a round of applause from her colleagues.
That was enough to encourage others to come forward and give the spray machine a try.
“Ah, what did I do wrong?” asked Carmen Galiano, who teaches fashion design, after pulling the machine’s trigger.
After making a few adjustments, things improved.
“I learned something new today,” she said.
“That’s fun,” noted Teresa Giorgio, who teaches cosmetology, after her turn with the machine.
Culinary instructor Chef John Damaini took a turn and determined the process was “very therapeutic.”
Mr. Casagrande insinuated it was not always so for some of his students who share the equipment. He has to remind students to adjust their machine before they begin because the person who used the equipment before them would have set the machine to their specifications and the next user may end up frustrated if they don’t respect the first step — check the settings.
“I got it,” Assistant Principal Evangelo Michas said after his turn.
Having fun using the spray machine was only part of the exercise. As he would do with his students, Mr. Casagrande handed out a worksheet with a photo of the spray machine. The “students” could not leave the body shop until they completed the sheet. This is one of the methods Mr. Casagrande uses to assess how well his actual students are paying attention and what information they had absorbed.
The outcome Mr. Casagrande had established for this particular lesson, he told his guests, was “students will relate and apply concepts to refinish a vehicle panel to industry standards.”
His colleagues may need a few more lessons to meet industry standards, but they were well on their way.