Ongoing Professional Growth Through Reflection

In their sixth year and every five years thereafter, Punahou Academy teachers participate in a Haku year, in which they reflect on their teaching practices as part of ongoing professional development. Teachers investigate a topic of their choice that has both curricular and personal importance.

"The Hawaiian word haku has several meanings. As a verb, it can mean to braid or weave together — to compose, invent, put in order and arrange," as stated by the School's Professional Development Committee. The committee uses "haku, its meanings and connotations, to describe and distinguish the professional development activities of cohorts of experienced teachers."

Teachers in their Haku year, "develop essential questions about teaching and learning, create ways to answer those questions, and share their learning with the community. Faculty Partners support them throughout the year as teachers weave together their own thinking and explorations with research and feedback, braid in collegial discourse and wisdom and present the gift of that work to the community — like a beautiful haku lei," as described by the Professional Development Committee.

For the eighth year of the Haku program, Punahou Academy's Professional Development Committee invited Haku faculty to exhibit their work at the Academy Learning Commons in Cooke Library. The exhibit featured displays of teachers' research, results and examples from their projects. Examples included using video to help glass arts students with their learning, alternative assessments in mathematics and language, teacher-created digital textbooks, and the creation of a Human Library. Teachers were on hand to speak about their work to colleagues.

The exhibit provided a great opportunity for teachers to share with other teachers about their practices. "It helped show how we know the project has affected student learning," explained Academy English teacher Holly Greenwell '86, a member of the Professional Development Academy Committee. "The exhibit does a better job of getting the word out there," echoed Erik Swanson Academy social studies faculty and member of the Professional Development Academy Committee.

It also benefits next year's Haku teachers who can see what next year holds for them and get inspired by what's possible. Paula Hodges, Academy Assistant Principal and Chair of the Professional Development Academy Committee, envisions the exhibit aspect of the project continuing into the future.