Growth and ‘Disruptive Thinking’ themes of LCSD PD day

A man speaks with a screen behind him at the front of an auditorium

Friday, March 15, was another day of learning for faculty and staff at Liberty Central School District.

Eric SheringerA day off for students, the Professional Development Day began with breakfast in the high school cafeteria followed by keynote speaker Eric Sheninger, founder and chief executive officer of Aspire Change EDU, in the high school auditorium. The educational consultant has been working with the high school as part of the LHS School Comprehensive Education Plan. Sheninger gave the presentation “Disruptive Thinking in our Classrooms.”

“To change or grow, we must challenge conventional wisdom,” he said.

Often using humor and short videos, he encouraged faculty and administrators to rethink four core items — normal, learning, learners and mindset — in an effort to have transformative change that will improve academic and social outcomes for the students.

A video shows on a screen at the front of an auditorium.“Disruptive thinking is the ability to replace conventional ideas with innovative solutions on authentic problems,” one of his slides read.

Changes have been made throughout the years, but the pandemic forced most schools into the “disruptive thinking” mindset, he said.

Technology was at the forefront of those changes, he said, but not all changes must be technologically based.

Bouncing ideas off of co-workers was also encouraged. He took several “turn-and-learn” breaks, sometimes encouraging staff to  turn to others near them and other times to get up from their seats to find others to discuss a topic.

a person kneels behind a row of seats with others seated in them as the people speak in a group.He emphasized that there are several known practices that help students learn, however there is no standard operating procedure for educators. What works in one classroom may not work in another, or what works for one student may not be the most effective way of learning for a classmate.

“Chase growth, not perfection,” Sheninger said.

He also encouraged teachers to focus on what they can control — primarily how time is used in their classrooms. He also recommended a forward thinking approach of focusing on “What if?” rather than “Yeah, but.”

He used several examples of the impact educators have had on his life.

“Never underestimate or undervalue your impact on kids,” he said.

A man speaks at the back of an auditorium as the audience looks ahead at a screen (not shown)The keynote was followed by Superintendent Dr. Patrick Sullivan, who reviewed the District’s Strategic Plan and Comprehensive Improvement Plan.

Walking around the auditorium as he spoke, he reviewed where the district is in both documents and highlighted benchmark data as well as plans, events and activities that have been implemented in support of the goals of the district and individual schools.

“Growth is happening,” Sullivan said. “We are moving in the right direction.”

He thanked the faculty, staff and administration for working together to meet Liberty’s mission “to empower each student to contribute and thrive in a diverse community by pursuing their potential.”

“Thank you for continuously caring,” he said. “Thank you for always wanting to move forward.”

After a break for lunch, staff and faculty from each school broke out into their own sessions.

The high school again heard from Sheninger, who spoke on adjusting teaching methods to today’s technology.

The middle school took part in a Targeted School Improvement workshop with education consultant Betsy Conners of PLC Associates. The middle school has been designated a Targeted Support and Improvement School, because four student subgroups  — Black, Hispanic, English Language Learners and Economically Disadvantaged — did not meet expectations.

The elementary staff took time in the afternoon to work on their curriculum maps, which help educators align their curriculum with the educational goals of their class.

There were further breakouts for specific staff and faculty roles as well.

LCSD holds regular conference days to offer faculty and staff professional development in support of the district’s five-year strategic plan. The sessions cover all pillars of the plan — curriculum, coherence, culture and MTSS, or Multi-Tier System of Supports.