Virtual Educator Workshops Share Best Practices in Mastery-based Math & SEL
During our school’s Summer Term, KLS teachers facilitated a brand new educator workshop series, the KLS Summer Institute. The Summer Institute was held virtually across two weeks with a different focus for each week’s two-day workshop session, attracting educator participants from around the world (including Pakistan, South Africa, South Korea, throughout the United States, and more) interested in incorporating elements of the KLS model in their classrooms. Participants also represented a diversity of professional backgrounds, from local public school teachers to administrators across the country starting new private schools inspired by Sal Khan’s book, The One World Schoolhouse.
Members of our teaching team developed this new initiative by drawing from their own experiences as educators and in the spirit of our school’s mission to share our model with the education field at-large. Launching the KLS Summer Institute is one of the ways our teachers are actualizing our school’s vision to innovate education beyond our campus. “We have been disenchanted by many of the structures and paradigms that are fossilized within our educational system,” shared Brandon Lee, our Director of Experiential Learning and KLS Summer Institute team member. “Being able to question that system and iterate to create the best education experience possible for students drives us each day, but it's not enough to do that for just our students in our small slice of the Silicon Valley—ultimately, we want to share our practices and help students thrive across the world.”
The first workshop in the series focused on mastery-based math and featured a keynote by our school's founder, Sal Khan. Workshop A: Creating a Mastery-based Math Program, facilitated on July 13 and 14, focused on a personal approach to Math mastery and provided educators the specific steps for incorporating mastery-based learning in their classroom. Melissa Blanco, our STEM Coordinator and Teacher Development Specialist, was one of the teachers that created and developed the workshop, incorporating her experiences from five years of teaching mastery-based Math at KLS. In reflection about highlights from Workshop A, Melissa shared, “The first was meeting like-minded educators, administrators, content specialists, and CEOs from all over the world who were eager to learn from Khan Lab School and share best practices with one another; the second was realizing how far the Math program had come in my five years at Khan Lab School. I found myself feeling proud of what we had created, discovered, and [now] shared.”
Michael Hurley, KLS Math Specialist and Workshop A co-facilitator, echoed Melissa’s excitement about bringing KLS teachers together with the greater education community. “My hope is that KLS' mastery-based Math program can help illuminate a path for teachers and administrators working to implement mastery-based programs of their own. I hope it shows that KLS' model can be replicated and improved upon, and that mastery-based education can be implemented in any classroom.”
Fellow Math Specialist and Workshop A collaborator Julia Doscher also hopes that the workshop will encourage other teachers to bring learnings from the KLS model to their classrooms, even in small ways. “I hope that teachers learn that changing to a mastery-based Math program doesn't necessarily require a complete programmatic overhaul, instead that a mastery-based Math program can fit into any school structure.”
The second week in the KLS Summer Institute workshop series focused on social-emotional learning (SEL) and executive skills, which are core components of the KLS model. Mikki McMillion, our Head of Middle School and former KLS teacher, developed and implemented Workshop B: Embedding Social-emotional Learning and Executive Skills In Your Curriculum. During this two-day workshop, workshop participants identified and expanded their understanding about the importance of social-emotional literacy, investigated how to build an academic culture that promotes social-emotional learning (SEL) and executive skills (ES) growth, and developed take away lessons and strategies for their school or classroom. During the workshop, one of our own students, Anandita M., presented about SEL lessons and reflections on personal growth. The workshop also included presentations by KLS teachers Arden Simone and Shannon Rossi, as well as a keynote presentation by Alison Park of Blink Consulting.
While creating the workshop experience, Mikki reflected on the growth of our school in its seven-year history. “Having to gather best practices, training, and curriculum used at KLS for the Summer Institute helped me to recognize the tremendous growth that happens at KLS,” Mikki shared. “Viewing examples of the many pivots, iterations, professional development training, data, and student growth and development, opened another level of appreciation for what the past staff has started and what the current staff continues to develop.”
In the future, we hope that SEL and executive skills become a mainstay in how educators approach curriculum development. “There should not have to be a workshop about how to embed SEL—It should organically exist in the curriculum, in conversations with students, parents, and staff, and in school cultures,” Mikki said. “I hope that, by sharing and teaching about SEL, someday, an SEL educator workshop is no longer needed.”
As a school committed to sharing our innovative approach to reimagining education, our teachers are looking forward to continued opportunities to provide best practices and tools to educators across all school models. “My greatest takeaway is that, even with the abundant information out there around mastery-based learning, educators still want to hear about Khan Lab School: our mastery-based program, examples, and best practices,” Melissa shared. “It is evident that our school continues to be at the forefront of education innovation, and this is only the beginning of sharing our important work.”
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