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Teacher leaders and administrative staff at BFS continued to grow professionally on August 30 and September 1.  BFS hosted a two day workshop on Cooperative Meetings led by Kagan Korea-Guam to help leaders at BFS plan meetings that engage participants in dialogue and the decision making process This training furthers the school’s focus on Cooperative Learning and extends those practices from the classroom to faculty meetings. 

Participants benefited from several key take away ideas such as; the need for dialogue to precede consensus building and the importance of trust in building a supportive and cooperative environment. Relational trust includes development of personal regard for colleagues, respect for ideas, valuing competency of instruction, and overall integrity. All participants learned that stronger trust in a school leads to gains in school improvement.  Consensus building does not mean that everyone is in total agreement, but it does mean that all voices are heard and that all team members agree to support the decision.

Kagan packages materials for ease of use, creating a convenient way for team leaders to begin to utilize the main strategies presented during the workshop.  These strategies are called “structures” in the Kagan model. One such structure is called “Talking Chips”, in which teammates are given a chip which they lay down in the table’s center when they contribute to the discussion. After all four members of the team have laid down their chip, the chips are collected, and the conversation continues. Such structures allow for all voices to be heard, preventing one team member from dominating a conversation and allowing soft spoken or introverted members of a group to contribute. During the two day event school leaders practiced over a dozen structures.

Teacher leaders also learned the value of effective communication. For example, paraphrasing what others have said is critical to achieve understanding. Throughout the workshop participants practiced paraphrasing as an aid to ensure that the speaker has been heard and understood.

Participants from several schools in Seoul and Daegu joined BFS staff for the two day session, providing an opportunity to build professional networks and learn together with a diverse group of educators. Each participant who completed the workshop will earn a certificate of completion from the Kagan institute.

The leader of the workshop, Chris Lowe, thanked Mr. MacFarlane for hosting the event, noting the excellent facilities at BFS, the outstanding logistical support provided by the school, and expressing the hope for a continued professional relationship between BFS and Kagan Korea-Guam.

The workshop utilized strong instructional techniques, illustrating best practices for student and staff engagement. These included several brain breaks during which teachers and administrators played follow the leader or completed other right brain/left brain challenges to help ensure good cognitive function. Tasty snacks and strong coffee also aided in engagement and retention of information. 

By Carl Brenneman / BFS Vice-Principal

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