Stack of Notebooks

CTL BLOG 

Welcome to the CTL Blog! At CTL the learning doesn't stop with our students; teachers and faculty at CTL are passionate and committed learners themselves.

 

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.  

We invite you to share in our knowledge, as we highlight relevant and topical education-related discussions, reviews of new (and old) best-practices, share valuable content, and much more!  

 

A Word From Our Head of School...

Lessons from Dandelions

As a small child I would lay on a blanket under a shade tree while my mom and dad plowed the fields, chopped and pulled cotton, or worked in the vegetable garden. The breeze blew gently under an old oak tree. With much reflection time, I was close to nature and would take in everything around me, especially the ants or the pill bugs as they crawled by or a dandelion growing from the ground close to my blanket. I closed my eyes, pursed my lips, blew small puffs and then watched as the tiny seedlings drifted into the breeze and blew out of sight, hoping my wish would come true. I don't remember what I wished for on those days, but the thought of the seedlings have recurred throughout the years as I related them to the children I taught.

Teaching was a catalyst to put my wheels into motion to learn more. Like the seedlings of the dandelions, I went out searching for fertile grounds--ways to help the students I was entrusted with. I found experts, research, and strategies that worked to not only move their 

learning forward but to cause them,
like me, to love learning. My
students became my curriculum, not
some textbook or curriculum guide.
And that made all the difference. I
learned that all learners are
different, and none (like the
dandelion seeds) get to the exact
same place at the same time. I
learned to respect the uniqueness of
each child and that every child is gifted. The more I learned and the more enthusiastic I became about teaching and learning, the more excited my students became as learners, the more they blossomed, and the more confidence they gained. I learned that Success Breeds Success. My learning journey revolutionized my classroom, my teaching, my students, and my future as an educator. I could not stop learning, and I yearned to help every student succeed.

Unlike the traditional classroom where all children are "taught" the exact same thing, at CTL our students are taught based on where they are and where they need to go next. CTL teachers are engaged in conferences with students every day in every subject. Yes, we have standards and curriculum and passionate teachers who know their content. They also know their students, and they know what their students need to know and they know how to individualize to meet the needs of each and every one. They care about students and their successes, igniting and growing a love of learning in every child. That's our vision, that's our goal, and it permeates everything we do at CTL.

One of my students my first year to teach brought me a quote that read To teach is to touch a life forever. I have kept that plaque close to me wherever I have gone in my teaching career. That's what we do as teachers--touch lives. That's why building relationships is an integral part of CTL's commitment to teaching and learning. Through and with the power of relationships is where we can truly and authentically celebrate the uniqueness in every child. Conferencing is at the heart of building those relationships and all teaching and learning at CTL It is through our conferences that we learn to teach to the uniqueness of every student. It's where we build relationships where students trust us and want to learn from and with us, a time for reflection with both teacher and student--a teachable moment. It is the springboard for learning.

There is nothing like reflection time under an old oak tree with nothing but dandelions, pill bugs, and ants to keep one company. Trust us here at CTL to create those environments for your children-- where we slow things down, give students plenty of time to get lost in books and in their writing, to reflect, to engage in rich discussions, to make mistakes, to take risks, to think outside the box, to problem pose, and to problem solve. Here at CTL we stand on fifty plus years of proven research. We stand on the shoulders of the giants in the field who have pioneered best practices that we use and incorporate daily in our classrooms. And we stand in the name of love.

We are here to make sure your child has the best experiences and love learning for the sake of learning because that is what learning and life is all about. They have an opportunity here to have learning experiences that will enrich their lives. That is what we are committed to do. Every teacher has hand picked this school, and every teacher has been hand picked for this school just like I picked those dandelions years ago under the old oak tree. Your children are those seedlings, and at CTL as they take flight we guide them with protection, with love, and with a passion for teaching and learning. As we embark on an extended journey next year with CTL High on the horizon, our journey will continue.

Last spring Beatrix, a first grader, came to shadow for a day at CTL. Here mom asked her at the end of the day what she thought about CTL. After stating that she needed a while to think about it, she returned and replied, "Love is the true spirit of hope. That is what CTL is. I think it might be the only school in the world that has this kind of love. And hope." I was reminded of this profound statement last week when Ridley, a second grader, came to shadow for a day. When his mom asked him what he thought of his day at CTL, he said, "Mama, this school has a heart...no, not just a heart, but a loving and kind heart. They aren't a beehive school that sucks all of the nectar out of beautiful flowers. No! They are a beautiful flower school with a loving and kind heart. I'm going there!"

This is what sets CTL apart! The children feel it. We feel it. Parents and grandparents feel it. What better gift can we give our children? It takes a village of teachers, students, parents, and an entire school community who share this vision. As you browse this newsletter, feel the excitement as our knowledgeable, committed, passionate, dedicated and loving teachers take you on a journey with your children into their classrooms. We hope you feel the love, the passion, and the excitement we feel as we are in and out of classrooms on a daily basis--where the love of teaching and learning and each other permeates the air. Enjoy your journey!

Linda E llis