At the Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL) we focus on educating the whole child with attention to all of the developmental domains:
cognitive, social, emotional, and physical.
CTL is a place where all students can reach their full potential — a vision that may be clouded in a more crowded, tradition-bound, and conventional setting. We work with students where they are, differentiating instruction so they won’t just succeed but will advance to new heights of achievement. CTL students discover their giftedness and develop habits of mind necessary for a productive, meaningful, and successful life.
Students benefit from CTL's private school model in the following unique ways:
Small School & Class Size
CTL is dedicated to maintaining a small school and small class sizes. Because of our small-school atmosphere, CTL faculty is better able to align the curriculum on a continuum through the grades. Furthermore, because of our small-class size, teachers are better able to differentiate for each student. In small schools children receive more individual attention and support, are more engaged in their studies, and are more likely to participate in extracurricular activities. Children are more than just a face in a crowd. The research base advocating small schools and small class sizes is compelling. In a review of hundred of studies, results have demonstrated significant benefits (Shah et al., 2009 p. 10; Hochschild & Scorvronick, 2003; Wesley et al., 2000).
In grades 1 through 8 we group students in multi-age classrooms and limit class sizes to twenty students. This allows teachers to build stronger relationships with individual students and differentiate instruction accordingly. Multi-age education involves a belief that all children can learn but learn at different rates. Multi-age classrooms have motivating activities with attention to learning styles, multiple intelligences, and interests. The teacher provides individualized support so student motivation and learning is accelerated. The multi-age approach is child-centered, not curriculum-centered. With flexible options for grouping afforded by the multi-age model, children participate in instruction that focuses on individual needs rather than prescribed curriculum. Because learning tasks in multi-age class are based on developmental levels, children make continuous progress and thereby become more successful.
Multi-age classrooms have been found to improve student achievement as teachers move children along a continuum of progress over several years (Stone, 1996). In a review of 64 studies, Pavan (1992) found that students in multi-age classes performed better than their peers on measures of academic achievement, were more likely than their peers to have positive self-concepts and high self-esteem, and exhibited positive attitudes toward school that increased the longer they were in a multi-age setting.
Positive, Caring Environment Conducive to Learning
At CTL we share an organizational culture that consists of our shared beliefs, expectations and values. We believe and expect that every child can learn and grow into a successful and productive citizen. When this is combined with a positive and nurturing environment, we lay the foundation for every student to achieve. CTL teachers, students, and school leaders treat each other with mutual respect, creating a positive school climate.
Highly-Qualified, Dedicated Teachers & Leaders
Children who attend CTL are guided by expert teachers who develop and implement the most innovative, promising practices for teaching across the curriculum. We are committed to recruiting and retaining expert teachers and providing the time, resources, support, and autonomy to continually develop their pedagogical skills in a collaborative, professional learning community.
The definition of an "expert" teacher can be complex and multilayered (Berliner, 2001). We believe that expert teachers are also committed learners. CTL's expert teachers:
hold college degrees and certifications specific to their teaching assignments
engage in ongoing professional development to hone their craft
read professional journal articles and books
share teaching experiences through publishing journal articles and books, presenting at conferences, and mentoring teachers who intern at CTL
Our dedicated faculty builds a relevant curriculum based on the diverse needs and interests of each student rather than deliver a pre-packaged program. The high expectations of teachers guarantees a school-wide commitment to student success.
Inquiry/Project-Based Teaching & Learning
Inquiry and projects are key to student engagement and motivation at CTL (Schlemmer & Schlemmer, 2007). Project Based Learning (PBL) is a dynamic classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge. PBL prepares students for academic, personal, and career success, and readies young people to rise to the challenges of their lives and the world they will inherit. Students are taught through whole-group mini-lessons and small-group and individual conferences. Language arts is taught across the grade levels through a workshop approach.
CTL is a place that cultivates passion and lifelong learning while allowing each child to reach his or her full potential. With the guidance of expert teachers, they learn as they learn best, discover their potential, and explore how to achieve it. CTL students benefit from differentiated instruction based on their current level of mastery not on their biological age. Students are able to excel far beyond what they would achieve in a more traditional setting where every child receives the same instruction.
Also known as "authentic" or "classroom-based" assessments, on-going performance assessments will inform instruction at CTL, thus enabling teachers to individualize and differentiate instruction for students. Performance-based assessments such as student self-assessments, portfolios, and projects are student-centered and paint a more complete picture of each student's progress and needs allowing the teacher, parent and child to see genuine progress over time. They also build critical thinking skills and help the child see the connectedness between content areas and the real world. Offering more than a paper-and-pencil generated “snap shot” of learning, performance assessments focus on what a child can do and understand, have intrinsic value, engage students, motivate them, build confidence and transfer readily to life beyond school as students learn to assess their own growth and set goals for future learning.
Character Education & Leadership Development
Character education, meaning common-sense values such as honesty and integrity, permeates the scholarly atmosphere at CTL. A clearly articulated discipline policy guides our students’ actions and ensure that behavioral problems do not interfere with learning and teaching. Our CTL community embodies principles of character and leadership and actively exemplifies those values in word and deed.
Parental & Community Involvement
CTL is committed to fostering a unique community of learners that includes families, teachers, staff, and other community members who are active participants in the educational, social, and emotional development of our children. We encourage community and parent involvement to develop children's understandings of the connections between classroom and real-world experiences and invite parent to be partners in the eduction of their children. Ongoing and active communication is vital to the parent teacher relationship and is maintained in a variety of ways such as e-mail, written communication, phone calls, and parent teacher conferences. Through parent engagement we tap the abundant resources they provide within the community thus building a dedicated partnership between the school and the community. This, in turn, meaningfully enhances and enriches our children's educational experiences.
Professional Development School Model
CTL provides a place for our expert teachers to develop and implement the most innovative, promising practices for teaching across the curriculum through on-going professional development. We share these practices with educators across the state and nation through ongoing demonstrations, workshops, presentations and publications. We are also committed to building strong partnerships with surrounding colleges and universities through serving as a demonstration site to host teacher candidates and sponsor a mentorship program for practicing teachers and school leaders who are interested in learning more about inquiry-based teaching and learning and the implementation in their own classrooms and schools.
Atwell, N. (2014). In the middle: New understandings about writing, reading, and learning (3rd ed.). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Berliner, D. C. (2001). Learning about and learning from expert teachers. International Journal of Educational Research, 35, 463-482.
Goodlad, J. I. (1990). Teachers for our nation's schools. Jossey Bass: San Francisco, CA.
Goodlad, J. I. (2004). A place called school (20th anniversary ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Hochschild, J., & Scovronick, N. (2003). The American dream and the public school. New York: Oxford University Press.
Pavan, B. N. (1992). The benefits of non-graded schools. Educational Leadership, 50(2), 22-25.
Schlemmer, P., & Schlemmer, D. (2007). Teaching beyond the test: Differentiated project-based learning in a standards-based age. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Books.
Shah, S., Mediratta, K., & McAlister, S. (April 2009). Building a districtwide small schools movement. Providence, RI: Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University.
Stone, S. J. (2006). Creating the multiage classroom. Tucson, AZ: Good Year Books.
Wasley, P., Fine M., Gladden, M., Holland, N., King S., Mosak, E., et al. (2000). Small schools: Great strides. A study of new small schools in Chicago. New York: Bank Street College.