The ART of TEACHING has grown not only in size but also in the level of support offered to participants. Mentor training has been important since the beginning, but it continues to evolve in order to suit the unique needs of mentors of experienced teachers. Similarly, over the years the ART of TEACHING has offered more and more professional development opportunities for fellows, and has increasingly tailored these opportunities to fellows’ areas of interest. For example, responding to many participants’ requests after observing the level of excellence in the teaching at Alvarado Elementary in Long Beach, the foundation funded a 2 ½ day institute on the Teachers College writing workshop approach at the school in October 2005, and a new type of collaborative professional development was born in the form of school-based institutes. Since 2005, the foundation has sponsored additional institutes at Alvarado, Weaver Elementary in Los Alamitos, Billy Mitchell Elementary in Lawndale, Will Rogers Elementary in Santa Monica, Boulder Creek Elementary in San Lorenzo, and McGaugh Elementary in Los Alamitos. Each school-based institute responds to the requests of fellows for the chance to learn about and observe a particular pedagogical practice in a school setting. Supplementing periodic institutes and workshops, the Annual Conference, which features leading experts in practice and research, was inaugurated in 2006. Presenters have included Rafe Esquith, Diane Ravitch, James Stigler, and Deborah Ball, among others, and annual attendance tops 400 educators with the common goal of teaching excellence.
In 2010, the Cotsen Foundation for the Art of Teaching and UCLA Laboratory School sent teachers to the Library of Congress to attend the Library’s inaugural training for elementary teachers in the use of primary source documents in the classroom. Subsequently, the Cotsen-UCLA Lab School partnership has been selected to join the Library of Congress’ Teaching with Primary Sources Consortium. The Consortium includes 26 member colleges, universities and organizations in twelve states and assists the library in the design of the Teaching with Primary Sources program. Consortium members offer professional development with the same goals as those of the Library in its training in Washington, D.C., and collaborate with the Library on the design of ongoing activities and materials. Many of these same teachers, and other ART of TEACHING participants, will also be receiving training from and working with the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, with an emphasis on primary sources related to California’s history, during the summer of 2011.
Partnerships such as these not only support the growth and learning of current ART of TEACHING participants, they are also offered to support alumni of the ART of TEACHING. Recognizing that teachers do not stop pursuing artful teaching after the two-year fellowship, the Cotsen Foundation for the Art of Teaching began offering small grants to alumni in 2006. In 2008, the number of alumni of the ART of TEACHING exceeded the number of current participants for the first time. Since then, the foundation has expanded its support for alumni learning, and the alumni have responded enthusiastically. In 2011, 58% of alumni participated in the ART of TEACHING’s alumni activities, which include grants for teachers, grants for schools, content networks, and school-based institutes, to name a few.
The involvement of school principals in the ART of TEACHING has increased over the years as well. Principal leadership is important to the success of the fellowship, and in 2007 the foundation hired a former principal to support administrators at ART of TEACHING schools. Through networking meetings, school-based institutes, and one-on-one support, the principal liaison works with current and alumni principals to help them promote artful teaching, support the mentors and fellows at their schools, and expand the benefits of the program to the entire school faculty. The success of these efforts has increased both the spread and sustainability of the impact of the ART of TEACHING and led in 2011 to the first annual symposium with district administrators. Focusing on how districts have built on the ART of TEACHING and adopted its tenets district-wide, even after the fellowship has concluded, the symposium recognized the innovative work of districts seeking to continue the professional learning and instructional success teachers and schools have achieved in the ART of TEACHING.