Reflections on a Remarkable Year

_96A1272Persistence, grit, and mental muscle, are just a few of the many terms being bandied about in educational circles today. Often associated with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), these terms frequently are used to convey the tenacity and deep effort that these rigorous standards require. While it is true that in order to meet these new academic expectations, students must develop intellectual stamina, it is also true that in order for teachers to be able to prepare themselves for delivering instruction that equips all students to master the CCSS, they too must exercise those qualities as well. And I can think of very few places where that is more clearly demonstrated than in this year’s ART of TEACHING program.

For the past 10 months, I have had the distinct pleasure of witnessing first-hand how diligently and persistently you as Cotsen mentors, fellows and administrators have worked to deepen your pedagogical understanding, and fine tune your ability to help students thrive academically. I watched you at the annual conference enthusiastically absorb the insights and suggestions that the presenters shared. I have seen you in the Cognitively Guided Instruction and Workshop Institutes pushing yourselves to deepen your understanding.  And I have observed you during the Site Based Institutes and School Visitations pressing to identify and truly understand the elements of highly effective teaching as they work in concert in artfully taught lessons.

I have listened to you in meetings reflecting on your practice with honesty and discernment. In your inquiry groups, together with colleagues, you have grappled with difficult questions about teaching and learning, read books and watched videos, all in pursuit of improving your practice. Mentors, fellows and principals engaged in powerful coaching sessions that will assist them in giving meaningful feedback as a part of the coaching cycle.

Through ART of TEACHING grants, alumni implemented a wide variety of activities as they continued their quest for instructional excellence. School and district administrators, on the other hand, have spent their time with Cotsen this year fine-tuning their knowledge of instructional technology, the Common Core Standards and the best ELA and math instructional practices to meet the standards.

All year, in so many ways, you have modeled what perseverance and stamina look like. In preparing for the CCSS and working to refine your craft with such enthusiasm and tenacity, you have embodied what it takes to be truly successful. We at the ART of TEACHING are honored to have supported you in your journey this year, and we believe this training will have an impact on teaching and learning in our schools.  We look forward to continuing the work in the fall.

Wishing you a wonderful summer,

Jerry Harris
Executive Director