JUNTOS IN THE COMMUNITY
Professional development for Juntos staff is guided by the needs of individual teachers, providers, the partnership, and state requirements. The coordinators determine what professional development teachers need to improve curriculum and instruction. These decisions are based on teacher self-assessment and classroom evaluations, teacher/student surveys, the state's information management system for adult education (the SMARTT System), the Assets and Needs Statement, program development goals, partnership objectives, and state priorities. Many of the education and training opportunities for Juntos staff members are offered by the state System for Adult Basic Education Support (SABES).
The Juntos partners have been able to expand the formal and informal professional development opportunities available to their staff by sharing expertise and instructional materials. On the most basic level, staff have more opportunities to network, trade ideas, and share classroom materials with their peers. For example, while a CEP teacher spends one-half day per week assessing the literacy skills of One-Stop Center clients, some Juntos instructors are not familiar with the resources available at CareerPoint, Holyoke's One-Stop. To address this, Juntos and CareerPoint recently held three meetings that brought together adult education instructors and career counselors to share information about the services that each provides. They are in the process of identifying long-term goals and objectives for their work together, which will focus on how to improve existing services through their collaboration.
Teachers also are given a chance to learn from others who teach similar classes or who specialize in different areas. They meet to discuss instructional strategies, and they share ideas by e-mail. Sometimes they teach each other's classes. For example, before taking his pre-GED class to a local art museum, a HALO teacher invited the art instructor at the Care Center to discuss painting techniques and imagery with the HALO students.
Learner-Teacher Day, begun in 2001, is an annual event organized by Juntos to bring learners, instructors, and administrators from all six partners together with community representatives, such as Holyoke's mayor and superintendent of schools, to discuss community issues. The entire planning process for the event is collaborative, from selecting a theme and organizing the day's activities to participating in the day's sessions. For example, for the second annual Learner-Teacher Day held in June 2002, titled "Participation in the Future: Adult Education in Our Community," students and instructors from each organization prepared activities for the event. Students from the Care Center wrote and acted in a skit. HALO Center GED students invited Holyoke's police chief to be part of a conversation about the role of the police in the community. In preparation, the HALO students drafted and presented a collective statement describing their perceptions of the police.
Former adult education learners participated in Learner-Teacher Day as members of a panel. All attendees also participated in cross-program workshops designed to identify pressing issues facing Holyoke residents and determine ways Juntos can support its learners in addressing those issues. The 2003 event, "My Family, My School, and Me: A Perfect Trio for Success" focused on how the integration of parents and other family members into children's education is a key to the future of the whole family.