Recently, Glenn Whitman, co-author of Neuroteach and Director of The Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning (CTTL) at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, conducted a full day of workshops for Park Tudor students, faculty, and parents. Bringing Glenn to campus was the logical next step in our journey with Mind, Brain, and Education (MBE) research.
MBE is now informing the way all of our faculty approach their work in the classroom, and we want our community to be aware of our commitment to this work. This is not, as Glenn Whitman told our faculty, “the year of the brain,” to be replaced next year with something else.
First, let’s take a look at our journey thus far:
- Every faculty member received a copy of Neuroteach: Brain Science and the Future of Education this summer.
- In the fall, Park Tudor leadership developed and communicated a homework policy based on MBE research that reveals—conclusively—quality is more effective than quantity and, most importantly, sleep is essential for brain development.
- In the fall, 28 teachers and administrators piloted the CTTL’s new online credentialing program, Neuroteach Global. Park Tudor had the highest participation and completion rates, not to mention our scores were among the highest of the other piloting groups. Our knowledge and experience of best practices for online learning platforms led to effective feedback for the CTTL’s development team. As Glenn Whitman informed us last week, they scrapped the module we piloted and began again. He extended his gratitude while meeting with our faculty.
- In the fall, Park Tudor offered parents an opportunity to read Neuroteah and to join a Parent Book Club, which met in November. We discussed policy and classroom instruction and how parents can effect change at Park Tudor and improve instruction by partnering with us on our efforts to improve the quality of our instruction at every level of the school.
- In the fall, Park Tudor rolled out two new platforms, the 360 Blog and the 360 Podcast: An All-Around Look at Student Education. Both platforms’ mission is to bring experts from inside and outside of our community to share how research around best practices affects instruction.
- And finally, last week, Glenn Whitman met with close to 600 students (5th-12th) and conducted workshops that demonstrated fundamental truths about the brain, how it learns, and what studying strategies students can employ to be more successful in the classroom.
So what’s next?
- We will require any new faculty and administrators to read Neuroteach before starting their work with our community. The book will serve as our foundational text and will help ground our professional development opportunities.
- We will continue to vet policies at Park Tudor through the lens of MBE research. Policies on technology, grading, assessment, etc. require a thorough examination that should be considered from multiple angles.
- We will find a way for faculty to earn a credential in MBE research, whether that’s through Neuroteach Global or not. Heather Teets, Director of Fine Arts; Christian Jacobs, Chair of the World Languages Department; and Brent Kaneft, Director of Curriculum and Instruction have committed to taking Track 1 (of 4): “Learning Environments” of Neuroteach Global, which begins in February. This team will assess the quality of the online experience and will help us consider whether or not Neuroteach Global is appropriate for all Park Tudor teachers.
- We will offer another book selection, grounded in the principles of MBE research, for parents to read this semester. And like last semester, we will offer at least two opportunities for parents to come together and share their thoughts and questions.
- We will continue write and interview experts in the field for our 360 platforms, but we are also considering the development of a research journal.
- We will send a team of teachers and administrators to The Science of Teaching and Leadership Academy this summer, which is hosted by the CTTL.
- We are in the middle of building a “Portrait of a Graduate” for Park Tudor School, which will take our PT values—Integrity, Intellectual Engagement, Respect, Responsibility, and Resourcefulness—off the walls and into the classroom, onto the playing fields, and into our advisory groups. We have always developed these characteristics, but not in a systematic way. The “Portrait of a Graduate” initiative will clarify for students just what behaviors and skills need to be developed in order for us to say “Yes, this graduate is resourceful. We know it because s/he has demonstrated the following…” This is a major effort to intentionally support the development of our students’ executive functioning skills.
As you see, Glenn Whitman’s visit is just the latest in the many steps we are taking to ensure MBE-informed instruction across the curriculum. Moving forward, we hope that you will seek ways to partner with us and support this effort. If you have any questions about how to get involved or what a parent needs to know about his/her child’s brain development, please contact Brent Kaneft, Director of Curriculum and Instruction (firstname.lastname@example.org).