GLENDALE—The Board of Regents of Prelacy Armenian Schools organized a daylong professional development conference for Armenian subject teachers of Prelacy Armenian Schools on Thursday, August 11, 2016, at the Galleria Ballroom in Glendale.
Over 100 Kindergarten – 12th grade educators from all 11 Prelacy Schools and Preschools (Holy Martyrs Ferrahian High School and Mary Cabayan Elementary School, Armenian Mesrobian School, Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School, Vahan and Anoush Chamlian Armenian School, Krouzian Zekarian Vasbouragan Armenian School, Ari Guiragos Minassian Armenian School, Holy Martyrs ARS Ashkhen Pilavjian Preschool, Ron and Goharik Gabriel Armenian Preschool, Mary Posdoian Armenian Preschool, Richard Tufenkian Armenian Preschool, and Levon and Hasmig Tavlian Armenian Preschool) participated in the conference.
Lisa Gaboudian, Chairperson of the Board of Regents of Prelacy Armenian Schools, welcomed all the participants and commenced the conference by thanking each Armenian subject teacher for their dedicated service. Gaboudian stressed the responsibility placed on Armenian subject teachers to preserve our language and to get acquainted with innovative approaches in teaching our students the Armenian language.
Gaboudian concluded her remarks by stating, “We truly value each and every one of you, and we hold Armenian subject teachers in high regards. Armenian instruction in our schools is a strategic objective for the Board of Regents. We are ready for the challenge to ensure that our students cherish their Armenian identity and speak the Armenian language. This conference today will mark the beginning of a series of conferences and trainings that the Board of Regents has planned for this upcoming academic year. The role of the Armenian teacher has become more crucial than ever. We hope that after today’s conference you will be able to take new approaches back into your classrooms and utilize some of the information relayed to you to make an immediate impact on our students. Once again, we thank all of you for your devotion and wish you a successful 2016-2017 academic year.”
Following Gaboudian’s opening remarks, Dr. Hasmig Baran, Board of Regents member, thanked the participants for their attendance and presented the day’s agenda, which was divided into four sessions. Baran introduced the first speaker of the day, Dr. Hagop Gulludjian, professor at UCLA’s Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.
Gulludjian’s presentation was titled “Creative Language or a Monument?” («Ստեղծագործ լեզո՞ւ թէ յուշարձան»). This session provided challenges that schools face in Armenian instruction, in particular the challenge of having students express themselves in the Armenian language. Gulludjian provided tangible examples of ways to motivate students to utilize the Armenian language and placed the importance of having students read Armenian literature. He discussed the significance of having students think in Armenian to be able to have the Armenian language cease from being only a closed-door family language. Gulludjian suggested challenging students and finding ways to instill confidence in them, to motivate them to speak about abstract ideas or everyday topics in Armenian.
Gulludjian’s presentation was followed by a two-hour interactive session by Amy Hughes, a graduate of Columbia University’s Teachers College, titled “Incorporating Reader’s and Writer’s Workshops Into the 21st Century Classroom.” Ms. Hughes shared her experiences in having students take turns reading novels out loud in the classroom and focused on student writing journals. Ms. Hughes shared strategies to keep track of each student’s progress using an online portal. She discussed innovative ways to have students use any type of text to create something new, creative and powerful. Ms. Hughes discussed ways to have students demonstrate an understanding of figurative language and analyze its role in a text by close reading and creating a found poem (blackout poem) based on a teacher-generated rubric.
Following the lunch break was an opportunity for Sanan Shirinian to present a brief summary of her experiences from Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s 2016 summer workshop in Portugal. Shirinian shared some of the main suggestions discussed during this workshop, such as creating a healthy environment for students to learn the Armenian language and the importance of having parents enroll their children in Armenian schools that provide quality education where students will learn the Armenian language and will become well-rounded bilingual citizens.
The last hour of the day was a hands-on workshop led by Gaboudian and Baran. During this session the participants were grouped according to their grade level. Each team was given a couple of grade level appropriate reading materials to prepare a lesson plan applying the new information and strategies they had learned from the day’s speakers. At the conclusion of the session each team was given the opportunity to share and present their lesson plans to the entire group.
During the day, participants were asked to complete a brief survey in order to capture the perspective of teachers on a variety of topics, including Armenian instruction, language usage, and textbooks, in order to better appraise the current state of our students and to obtain their suggestions for improvement.
The Board of Regents of Prelacy Armenian Schools is pleased to announce that this one-day professional development conference met its objectives. Armenian subject teachers had the opportunity to participate in educational workshops presented by professional lecturers. Based on the feedback received from the participants, we believe we have further advanced their educational knowledge and expanded their horizons with innovative and new educational approaches in teaching the Armenian language. We are confident that the participants will take this knowledge they have obtained directly into their classrooms to make a positive impact on our students. We look forward to organizing similar opportunities for our Armenian subject teachers throughout this academic year.