What is the CTTL and what does it do?

The CTTL is the research and professional development arm of St. Andrew’s that trains and provides on-going professional development to 100% of the school’s pre-school through 12th grade faculty in how to read and translate research in the field of Mind, Brain, and Education Science to how they design their classes and work with each student. The CTTL disseminates its research and experience to the larger educational community through its internationally recognized publication, Think Differently and Deeply and its on-site and virtual program offerings including its Idea in Education Festival and Science of Teaching and School Leadership Academy.  Since 2011, the CTTL has presented to, worked with and hosted over 9,000 teachers from 200 schools from six different countries and eighteen states.

How does the CTTL support the mission of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School: “To know and inspire each child in an inclusive community dedicated to exceptional teaching, learning, and service.”?

Since the school’s founding in 1978, St. Andrew’s has challenged and supported each student to meet his or her potential as a learner. The CTTL advances that commitment by applying research on how students best learn to the already innovative and transformative instructional practices of St. Andrew’s teachers. The CTTL also serves a strong public purpose. It provides a model of exceptional teaching and learning for educators and students in some of the most challenging learning environments through its valued partnership with Teach for America.

Which St. Andrew’s students does the CTTL serve?

The CTTL works with every St. Andrew’s student, including our most sophisticated thinkers, to become more independent, efficient, confident, and self-aware learners. Advanced students—many of whom would do “just fine” in less innovative classrooms—learn to work more efficiently in their best subjects and find confidence and success in areas outside their perceived strengths (e.g., a highly skilled math student can learn how to apply her visual-spatial strengths to expository writing, improving her performance in English class). Students who experience difficulty in certain areas of the curriculum often find their confidence and the quality of their work improves greatly when they understand how they best learn and how through deliberate practice they can change their brain.

What resources and research are informing the work of the CTTL and the professional growth of St. Andrew’s faculty?

In 2013, St. Andrew’s was the eighth school in the world to be invited to become part of Research Schools International that is led by researchers and faculty at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.  Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education Neuro-Education initiative and the research of Dr. Mariale Hardiman have been particularly valuable to St. Andrew’s thinking about creating “brain friendly” classrooms. The Neurodevelopmental Framework for Learning developed by All Kinds of Minds has informed the training of 100% of St. Andrew’s faculty and led the school to be recognized as a “School of Distinction” in 2011. The work of leaders in the Mind, Brain, and Education Science field, such as Dr. Kurt Fischer, Dr. Mary Immodrino-Yang, Dr. Daniel Willingham, Dr. Carol Dweck, and Dr. Michael Posner have been integral to early thinking of the CTTL as have connections to the International Mind, Brain, and Education Society (IMBES) and Learning and the Brain Society, which holds an annual conference attended by St. Andrew’s faculty. In 2016, the CTTL was the winner of the IMBES Mind, Brain and Education Science Mission Award. The first pre-collegiate school to receive this distinction. The Research Base page of the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning includes links to some of the leading literature on educational neuroscience and is continually updated.

How will my child benefit from the CTTL?

We now know more than ever before how students learn, how the mind works. Since all St. Andrew’s faculty have been trained in a neurodevelopmental framework for learning, each child will have teachers who understand the demands of learning on the brain. This understanding is continually informed each year by new research and innovative teaching strategies that will allow a child to know him or herself better as learner. The work of the CTTL also helps to attract and retain great teachers who want to be part of the future of teaching and learning that is already present at St. Andrew’s through the collaboration of educational neuroscience and best classroom practices. Individual students can also apply to become CTTL Student Research Fellows, a two-year opportunity to better understand educational neuroscience and work with university researchers and the CTTL to design and lead research and student-centered programming during the school year and summer.

What are some specific ways St. Andrew's teaching and learning has been transformed?

Because of the faculty’s training and on-going professional development in the field of Mind, Brain, and Education Science, St. Andrew’s teachers better know how all students learn. Teachers collaborate with students, empowering them to understand their individual learning strengths and challenges through whole class strategies and personalized instruction.
  • Mindfulness training for Lower School teachers and students.
  • The creation of a research-informed student, time-management, planner. for grades 6-12 (a partnership between the CTTL and the Education Center).
  • Transformation of grades 6-12 final exam schedule so that students had a deep opportunity to reflect on their performance, receive oral feedback from their teachers, and to establish strategies for future improvement.
  • An essential question for every class is to help each student identify, “Who am I as a learner?”
  • A Lower School report card and effort grade system for grades 4-12 was created from research in educational neuroscience.
  • One-on-One conversations between teachers and students focus on meta-cognition, knowing one’s self as a learner, and demystifying the learning process.
  • Teachers design their courses with an understanding of the learning demands on the brain and an appreciation for how each student learns differently.
  • The advisor program educates students about the neurodevelopmental demands of learning focusing on enhancing attention, memory, executive functioning, and time management.
  • Student Learning Profiles are being created that move with each student.
  • Teachers use varied forms of assessments. In certain middle and upper school classes, students have the opportunity to choose what type of year-end assessment would be best for the way they demonstrate cumulative understanding.
  • Pre and post-assessment reflection is recognized as an essential learning strategy.
  • Technology through St. Andrew’s iPad program (Lower School) and one-to-one laptop program (Intermediate, Middle and Upper School) is used to help students organize their ideas.
  • Time and space to play and move is recognized as a contributor to improved academic performance.
  • Students are provided with specific, research informed strategies that help students develop their memory, growth mindset, and executive functioning skills.
  • “Exit Tickets” are used to have students have a forced recall or reflection moment at the end of each class period to enhance memory consolidation.

How does the association with university researchers advance the mission of the CTTL?

Collaborating with leading research universities and their faculty is critical to the work of the CTTL. The CTTL’s first school/university research association was with faculty from The John’s Hopkins University Graduate School of Education, in particular Dr. Mariale Hardiman that led to original research projects, professional development workshops and co-authored articles. In 2013, the CTTL became a member of the Research Schools International network that is led by researchers and faculty from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. This is a global network of schools in the United States, Europe, Australia, and South America that conduct cutting-edge research, lead professional development, and disseminate research findings to the broader educational community in partnership with faculty from Harvard’s GSE. Each of these relationships enhances the CTTL’s understanding of the growing and applicable body of research that all teachers should be using to enhance their teaching quality and student achievement.

What can the CTTL offer my school?

The CTTL values every opportunity it has to collaborate with teachers and school leaders at public, public charter, private and parochial schools who want to better understand how the brain works, learns, and changes. The CTTL offers onsite and virtual opportunities to collaborate in half, full or multi-day workshops including its Science of Teaching and School Leadership Academy in July. Contact the CTTL’s director Glenn Whitman (gwhitman@saes.org) for more information.