Bosque Faculty Programs

The Sofia Center designs and leads the professional development program on its home ground at Bosque School. All programs serve to build and nurture a professional learning community that values inquiry, shared expertise, a growth mindset, a commitment to current best practices, authentic valuing of diverse voices, and a belief in the transformative possibility of teaching. We strive to offer professional learning opportunities that strike a meaningful balance of intellectual inquiry, skill and content development, inspiration, and heart.

Faculty and Staff August Launch: Summer Reading and Orientation

The Sofia Center launches the school year each August with an inspirational evening focused on the shared summer reading. We gather for delicious food, vibrant conversation, and reconnection after the summer. Summer reading selections have included, among others, a curated selection of essays on diversity and equity, Ron Berger’s An Ethic of Excellence, Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, Carol Dweck’s Mindset, Benaji and Greenwald’s Blindspot, and Emily Bazelon’s Sticks and Stones.

The summer reading event kicks off a four-day orientation that has the structure and feel of a small conference. In addition to time to work in divisions, departments, and teams, faculty and staff members participate in a variety of workshops, discussion groups, and design sessions focused on teaching and learning. The week is typically framed by a particular structure or topic, such as design thinking for educators or diversity and equity in the classroom.

Professional Development Days

Throughout the school year, the Sofia Center leads three professional development days with Bosque faculty and staff. Designed to support our collective learning goals, these days take several forms and often include multiple workshops and seminars, keynote speakers, and time for shared reading, inquiry, and discussion. Since opening its doors in 2013, the Sofia Center has invited educators from the larger community and from within the school to offer over 40 workshops and seminars for Bosque faculty and staff.

Workshops and Seminars Led by Guest Educators at Bosque Professional Development Events

TitleGuest Educator
Rivers Run Through UsValerie Martinez
The Classroom as a Restorative CommunityValerie Martinez
From the Acequia to the Front PorchLevi Romero
Doing Diversity EffectivelySusana Rinderle
Project ECHODr. Karla Thornton
Breaking the Conventions of MemoirGreg Martin
Memoir as a ReckoningGreg Martin
Teaching the MuseHakim Bellamy
The Nurtured Heart ApproachDanielle Cossett
Creativity is (not) just connecting things (with apologies to Steve Jobs)Dr. Rex Jung
New Mexico Kids Are Counting on UsDr. Veronica Garcia
An Introduction to Illustrative Mathematics and the Spectrum of Modeling TasksDr. Kristin Umland
Increasing the Effectiveness of Your Online Research ExperienceEric Ziecker
The Art of Giving and Receiving: A Workshop on StoryVivian Nesbit
St. John’s College Seminar on Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”Dr. David Carl
Mindfulness Meditation for True Stress ReductionMichelle DuVal
Get Wise about Saving for Retirement: How to Use Bosque’s Online Retirement PlannerDr. Dan Otter
Building Better Writers with Google DriveEamonn O’Brien
What Are Complex Systems, and How Do They Relate to Science?Dr. Stephanie Forrest
Plot and Story Architecture: A Master ClassGreg Martin
The Library of Babel: A St. John’s SeminarDr. David Carl
Project-based Learning in the Digital AgeEamonn O’Brien
Turning Oneself into a CharacterGreg Martin
Critical Race Theory in the ClassroomShields Sundberg
The Delicate Art of Cross-Cultural Communication: Navigating Race and Difference in the ClassroomDr. Finnie Coleman
Creating Safe and Welcoming Environments for LGBTQ+ YouthJenn Jevertson
Revolution Radio: Protest Music from South Africa to the South BronxShields Sundberg
Drama As a Healing Art: Strategies That Work in All DisciplinesKaren Jones Meadows
Beyond Blue and Pink: Transgender 101Jess Clark

Workshops and Seminars Led by Bosque Faculty and Staff at Bosque Professional Development Events

TitleStaff Member
Student Involvement with Mimio (Collaboration and Instant Feedback) and Webcasts (Mini Excursions into Flipping the Classroom)TJ Middleton
Integrating Social Justice and Cultural Competence Into Your CurriculumTamisha Williams
Assistive Technology Tools at Bosque SchoolClint Montgomery
The Teacher’s Dilemma: Helping Students Use Words with IntegrityGeetha Holdsworth
People of Color Conference 2012: Energizing Our Future–Sharing out and Looking InwardJuaquin Moya and Dr. Kelena Reid
Learning and The Teenage BrainCarly Andrews and Charlie Stanley
Talking about Ferguson with Students: Lessons from the People of Color ConferenceTamisha Williams, Dr. Kelena Reid, and Dr. Nina Leacock
What is Standards-based Assessment?: The BasicsTara O’Brien
Nia: Health through MovementKate Davis
Beyond Being "Welcoming": Creating an Environment in Which People Can Show Up As Their Full SelvesTamisha Williams
Legos, Little Bits, and Learning: Digital Design & MakingCurt Bland and Matt Fike
Differentiation: The What, Why, and HowKari Daniels
Google ClassroomCathy Bailey
How to Create and Use Digital PortfoliosRené Palomares


We believe that well-designed opportunities to reflect on our collective work yield collegial connection, creative problem-solving, and maps for future action. The Sofia Center works with departments throughout the school to design and facilitate their full-day, off-site retreats. These include annual summer retreats for the Bosque School leadership team, annual winter retreats for the combined Bosque/UNM staff of the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program, and working with various academic department leaders to design retreats for their teams.

The Tune-up

tune-up, noun. [toon-uhp]

1 : a general adjustment to insure operation at peak efficiency
2 : a preliminary trial : a warm-up or preparatory activity

Offering food for thought and a great way to launch the day, early-morning Tune-Ups are open to all Bosque faculty and staff. Topics ranged from the inspirational to the practical, and the Tune-Ups offer a place to spotlight faculty and staff expertise, report back from conferences, and share best practices. Fill up your coffee cup, grab a bagel, and connect with colleagues! 7:15-7:50 in the Sofia Center. Dates announced by semester.

Professional Learning Groups

Professional Learning Groups provide a collective learning experience for Bosque faculty and contribute significantly to building a strong professional learning community. Each year Bosque faculty members explore and study a range of teaching and learning topics through a series of monthly meetings. Professional Learning Group topics evolve through conversation with faculty members and in alignment with institutional learning goals. They include a range of formats, from book study to project design to peer observation.

Professional Learning Group examples include:

Project Design/Re-Design

So you have a great project you’ve been doing for several years or a new one that has been percolating that you haven’t yet tried. You would love to take an old project to the next level, or you’d love to try the new project but haven’t had time. In this group, each participant will select a particular project – old or new – and work with members of the group to design/re-design the project using gold-standard protocols and practices from Project-Based Learning experts. Is the project question meaningful and appropriately complex? Is there an authentic audience for the project? Have I built in sufficient opportunities for critique and improvement? For those interested in this group but who have little or no background with the PBL literature, we would arrange a separate introductory session and provide basic materials so that all group members would begin with at least a working knowledge of PBL.

Innovation in Action

Most educators are constantly innovating. Why do the same thing again when I could do this great new thing that I thought of over the summer?! As we know from experience, however, meaningful innovation isn’t just doing something new; it’s enhancing a learning experience by adding depth and creativity, and perhaps leaving room for the unexpected. It’s coming at an idea or concept through a side door. It’s creating unique opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning. It’s not just something new; it’s something better. Step one for this group will be reading two or three inspirational short pieces about innovation and education. Think Grant Lichtman or Tina Seelig. Each participant will then select one unit, project, concept, or system to examine with colleagues in order to identify opportunities for meaningful innovation. Starting with the multiple lenses offered in the article by Lundberg and Seward that we read recently at a faculty meeting, participants will identify opportunities for innovation that allow us to take current work to a new level.

Assessment Alignment

You know that some of your assessment practices are working beautifully. Your students are clear about the learning goals of the project, they have multiple opportunities to refine and improve based on feedback, and they are producing excellent work that evidences a rich feedback and assessment model. At other times, however, you aren’t so sure. Student work isn’t what you had hoped, and you’re wondering what could have been different. As we know, strong and meaningful assessment practices increase the opportunity for student learning and growth. Participants in this group will have the opportunity to work on aligning their assessment practices with the school’s assessment philosophy and best practices document. For example, the document states: The majority of assessments are formative, providing specific guidance for future work. They should offer redirection for student misconceptions, strategies for improvement, and opportunities for growth. A participant in this group could choose to focus exclusively on this aspect of assessment by using the professional learning group time to work with colleagues to develop multiple formative assessment opportunities for a particular unit, project, or semester. Another person in the group might focus on making assessment more transparent through clearer articulation of learning goals for all student work. Materials would be curated to meet the needs of group members.

The Power of Story: Using Podcasts, Interviews, and the Written Word to Inform Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Work

As educators, we care deeply about every student. We want every young person to learn, to grow, to be affirmed and held up to the light. Given what we understand about systemic inequities in our culture and world, and given the research laid out in Blindspot (which many read this last year or this summer), how do we continue to expand our capacity to connect with, see, support, and respect every student? In turn, how do we increase our students’ capacity to connect with, see, support, and respect those different from themselves? Participants in this group will listen to podcasts and interviews, and read narratives and articles that open us up to the myriad experiences of people whose stories do not mirror our own. Between sessions, participants will commit to one concrete action – a visual audit of one’s classroom, documentation of who is speaking in class and who is not, a challenge to include an underrepresented voice, etc.

Making Learning Visible: The Power of Group Learning and Documentation in Classrooms and Communitie

Making Learning Visible (MLV) is a fabulous online learning opportunity offered by Project Zero at Harvard University. MLV is a semester-long program and is open for a team of 4 to 6 to apply. We would love to support one team of up to 6 people. Here is the course description: Unlock the potential of group learning in your classroom. In groups, both children and adults learn from and with others, encountering new perspectives, strategies, and ways of thinking. Not only do individuals enhance their own learning, but the group can also achieve more together than any individual could alone. This program will examine group learning through the Making Learning Visible (MLV) framework. MLV began as a collaborative research project between Harvard’s Project Zero and educators in Reggio Emilia, Italy, to explore the group as a powerful aspect of the learning environment. Over the past decade, MLV has worked with hundreds of teachers throughout the U.S. to promote the development of learning groups. You’ll learn about the MLV framework and how to apply it in your own setting to benefit students, teachers, and your school community as a whole. In the process, you will explore documentation as a tool for improving teaching and learning. Documentation is a way to “make visible” both what and how students learn. Through careful observation, collecting evidence, interpretation, and sharing information, you will learn to produce a record that both students and teachers can look back on to build self-awareness and guide future teaching practice.

Diversity + Equity Essential Texts

As part of our ongoing commitment to diversity and equity work, we want to continue to grow as a collective of educators familiar with essential texts about race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious difference, and other identities and lived experiences. To this end, we will again offer a book study group focused on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusivity. The group will most likely start with Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do (Steele). Subsequent books will be selected by the group. Some participants may want to read books that were part of last year’s book study; this can be easily navigated based on who is in the group.

Open Doors

All teachers believe it’s great to be in one another’s classrooms. Most teachers find it hard to make time for this, and even the most experienced teacher can find it daunting to have an adult visitor in class. Over the last couple of years, we have planted the seeds to be an open-door school. Through the video project and the 3-minute observation club, more of us have seen one another teach than in previous years. The Open Doors professional learning group will continue this trend in a slightly different format. Open Doors will ideally be a group of 5-6 teachers committed to sharing and receiving feedback based on classroom visits. Each person in the group will identify a key area of their practice where they are trying to grow. Ideally, one’s area of desired growth will reflect some aspect of our stated collective goals for the year. After clarifying these goals, the group will set up a rotating schedule for classroom visits, with visits in the 30-minute range. While affirmation will certainly be a joyful part of this experience, participants will commit to asking important questions, offering thoughtful suggestions, and delving deep into why and how we do what we do.

Think Tank

The Think Tank invites Bosque faculty and staff to three invigorating days of collective inquiry and innovative thinking. Daily life in schools doesn’t leave sufficient time to delve deeply into our craft and investigate new and compelling ideas. Instead of grabbing small blocks of time here and there, the Think Tank offers the time, setting, and resources to investigate complex topics and ideas with the attention and energy they merit.

Over the course of three days, participants have time for reading, discussion, group work, and individual reflection. The Think Tank is designed to offer sufficient structure without restricting on-the-spot innovation. The Sofia Center provide a wide range of resources for each group, although in general the investigation and learning of the groups is self-directed. In other words, the Think Tank doesn’t follow a typical workshop structure; instead, the Think Tank provides the time for collaborative study, exploration, and learning. On day three, all groups to share the results of their investigations and learning, as well as their plans for implementation. The Think Tank takes place off campus in a beautiful setting, complete with great food, the chance to be outdoors, and one evening dinner that includes spouses and significant others.

The Think Tank is offered every two to three summers. Past Think Tank Projects include:
– Sense of Place
– Diversity and Equity
– Place + Global Citizenship
– Student Wellness Curriculum Design
– Developing Best Assessment Practice

To be a good teacher, you have to be a good learner. The Sofia Center’s excellent programming keeps me on my toes in both roles. I attend not only Sofia programming aimed exclusively for Bosque teachers — the week in which we reconvene as a faculty in the Fall, and the quarterly professional development days — but also the public programming — the Reflect : Innovate : Act series, the conferences, and special events. The Sofia approach is thoughtful, grounded, renewing. It directs me back to being my best self in the classroom. I do better work because of it.

                               – Nina Leacock, PhD, Bosque English Teacher & Upper School Dean of Academics