What is the CTTL and what does it do?
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?
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?
- 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.