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In the Community

Mission, Values & Vision

A new semester marks another opportunity for Boston educators to learn from Emmanuel College faculty: through professional development courses within the College’s Carolyn A. Lynch Institute.

Established in 2002 with a grant from the Lynch Foundation, the Lynch Institute provides programs and services to support the development of teachers in the Boston community and to enrich the education of PK-12 students with an emphasis on math, science and technology. 

The next cycle of courses taught by Emmanuel staff, faculty and local educators begin March 2nd and follow on the 16th & 23rd from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Those who want to participate in a course or learn more can register here.

Dean of the School of Education Sr. Karen Hokanson, SNDdeN, said the institute maintains the growth of teachers in the community by offering courses that present “current trends, pedagogy and research,” in the education field. Remaining committed to the longstanding mission of supporting Boston’s schools and fostering the best outcomes for its students, Emmanuel College and the Lynch Institute constantly update and offer new course material to reflect the field’s ever-changing nature. 

One example is with artificial intelligence (AI), which is finding its way into every industry, but may be daunting to apply in the classroom. This inspired the “AI for Teachers/Administrators” course, taught by Emmanuel’s Director of Academic Technology and Innovation Brian Larkin. Returning after a successful first-session last fall, the course covers the basics of AI so teachers can adeptly discuss it with students and peers and use it in their lessons. 

Larkin, who shared his own excitement for the course, said educators were incredibly interested in the topic last fall. By the end, he said they were “definitely able to capture some enthusiasm and optimism about AI in teaching.” 

Diane Cobb, a language and literature teacher at Quincy Catholic Academy, enjoyed the first AI course so much that she signed up for the second rendition this March. 

“Brian was a fabulous instructor,” Cobb said. “He adjusted his pace and methods to accommodate our skills, needs and fears, and he made the material immediately relevant to instruction.” 

Recently, Cobb said she had been wondering how she ever taught without AI because of how much the new skills from the course have enhanced her classroom. Now, she has access to a new form of enrichment for students – and it’s completely free. 

“I use ChatGPT so often and students love what it produces. I am able to generate targeted, specific instruction in minutes. Some of the work I never would have had the time or patience to produce, and others would’ve taken me hours: AI gets it done in seconds,” said Cobb. 

The course starts with real-world examples of AI that are overlooked every day, like text suggestions on an iPhone, to create some familiarity for participants. The course does its due-diligence to make teachers aware of the pitfalls of AI, but also highlights its positive uses. By the end, teachers are equipped with the basic knowledge they need and complete the course by drafting their own AI-related policy for their classroom or school. 

“The hope is that they don’t see AI as some monstrosity – it’s a tool. Just another arrow in the quiver,” Larkin said. 

That’s just the tip of the iceberg – the Carolyn A. Lynch institute is constantly seeking out fresh and relevant material to keep educators in the area up to date. The “Science of Reading,” a deep dive into the methods of teaching reading, is always growing, which is why the Lynch Institute consistently provides it as a course offering. 

Shauna O’Leary, a reading specialist and Mary Duggan, a speech and language pathologist, both from Milton Public Schools, are leading a science of reading course next month. It will go beyond the basics on teaching reading, including further insight on how to support dyslexic and English-language-learning (ELL) students. 

“Like any science, new research continues to come to light. In the Science of Reading workshop, we look at all the components of reading acquisition and talk about best practices for teaching reading. Teachers need a solid understanding of how kids learn to read to have the greatest impact on their learners,” O’Leary said. 

A variety of other subjects are available in March too: like “Science Design Topics,” “Educating Diverse Students,” nutrition, climate change and more.

“The opportunity to work professionally and collaboratively with other teachers is invaluable,” said O’Leary. “Participants at the Lynch Institute feel valued and renewed – teachers leave with a positive energy that they take to their practice.”

To learn more about Emmanuel College’s Lynch Institute, click here.