Page 1

issue 8 fall 2010


The Culture of Mentoring Service Learning in the 5th Grade The Resident Teacher Program

Mentoring Experienced Teachers

Keep your Spark


-Changes are coming -See inside cover for details

Beginning fall 2011, Spark will have a new subscription model. Please point your web browser to the following URL to share your opinion and consider subscription options. Thank you.

In this Issue Sticky Curriculum 2


BY TEACHERS FOR TEACHERS™ Spark is published by University Child Development School.

Creative Fusion 6

Head of School Paula Smith Assistant Head of School Teacher Education Center Director Melissa Chittenden

Service Learning: Our Unique Fifth Grade Year

What Works #1 10

Editor & Publication Design Jack Forman Contributing Writers Diane Chickadel, Susan Foley, Jack Forman, Kerrie Hecko, Meg Herland, Julie Kalmus, Gretchen Morse, Katharine Sjoberg, Paula Smith, Betsy Watkins

The Experienced Teacher Cohort: Embracing the Culture of Professional Mentoring

What Works #2 12

The Resident Program: Mentorship Through Collaboration

Contributing Editors Leanne Bunas, Diane Chickadel, Melissa Chittenden, Betty Greene, Stephen Harrison, Cory Ihrig Goldhaber, Julie Kalmus, Brooke Leinberger, Angie Manning Goodwill, Abby Sandberg, Paula Smith, Kai Toh, Natasha Rodgers

People Who Inspire Us

Photography Melinda Deal, Stephen Harrison, UCDS Faculty and Staff


Spark Plugs


UCDS Mission Statement


Interview with the 2009-2010 Residents

In Each Issue 1

Greetings from Paula

For submission information, please contact Brooke Leinberger at The editor reserves the right to edit and select all materials.

Š 2010 University Child Development School. All rights reserved. TM



p 12

Tapping Talent in Schools Energy, experience, expertise, passion, effective technique, ideas and innovation…every successful organization attempts to fully utilize these precious human resources. To this end, much has been written about corporate structure and culture. Armed with research from Jim Collins, Good to Great and a plethora of organizational theorists, CEOs are well positioned to tap the full potential of the people they employ, and the profitability of a company depends on their ability to do so. Clearly, non-profits and charities rely on talented people to donate their time, and often, the organization could not function without them. It is estimated that nearly half of the people in the US donate time to non-profits, over 20 billion hours annually.1 If tapping the talent pool is such a key factor in an organization’s success, it is hard to understand the professional culture that exists inside many K-12 schools in the US. Although spending for education has more than doubled since 19702, the basic organizational structure has changed little since our public school system was built a century ago. Teachers are still “trained” to cover content on a given timetable, work in relative isolation from their colleagues and are rarely given any opportunity to make changes in the school program. Who are the effective teachers in the building? No one is quite sure, as the professional culture in most schools makes it unlikely that a teacher would even enter a colleague’s classroom. In a recent study led by Susan Moore Johnson, from Harvard University, a researcher suggests that many teachers are lonely in their jobs because “professional norms of privacy and autonomy are so strong.”3 As a result, talented teachers have limited impact outside the walls of their classrooms, and opportunities for sharing ideas, resources and innovation are lost. Education reform has been a top priority for states and for the federal government for decades, and the release of the movie Waiting for Superman is most certainly going to ignite passionate debate about what is needed. Fortunately, a plethora of school design models are popping up in independent, public and charter schools across the country, as well as a large scale research project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that aims to develop measures of teacher effectiveness in 3,000 classrooms and seven school districts across the US.4 The information that is gathered will most certainly widen our focus beyond the debate about what we teach and help us to understand how we might attract, develop and sustain talent in our schools. Changing the culture of any organization is an enormous challenge and school reform efforts coming from outside the school have often been ineffective for this reason. As states are forced to downsize education spending across the country, this may finally be the time that redesigning schools to tap talent becomes a top priority. The shift that will be required is significant as professional culture, organizational structure and resource management must all be aligned in new and innovative ways. At UCDS, we believe that the faculty should be engaged in an ongoing discussion about how the culture and organizational structure support their work with students and with each other. It is our experience that building school culture is a powerful force for change when teachers have ownership. We have intentionally constructed a mentor culture at UCDS, where both new and veteran teachers learn from each other. Everyone is called upon at one time or another to coach, to present, to consult, to conduct action research and to network. Each faculty member brings different expertise and experience, enriching the learning environment for others. Teachers and administrators together have built and rebuilt the following elements of our school in order to create a culture where talent is continually cultivated.

Write it down: What does your school stand for?

Core Values: What should learning look like? Teacher Profile: What does exceptional teaching look like in your school both inside and outside the classroom? Cultural norms: How will you work together?

Form follows function: How are you organized?

Work Teams: Where can small work groups support effective teaching? Schedule: How can you maximize collaboration when planning, teaching, and debriefing what is working? Curriculum: How is curriculum mapped and shared between grade levels?

Work inside-out: How can you strategically align your resources?

Tap Talent: Who has expertise and resources to share? Share, Share, Share: Which techniques, materials, information and innovations can be shared across a department? Strategic development: How is professional development tied to what teachers need? With every challenge comes the opportunity to seize the day. We believe that educators in every school can build an intentional culture that will support their best work and that there is room for many models. Our nation’s children are depending on us to so.

1 Powell, Walter W. and Richard Steinberg, eds. The Nonprofit Sector: a Research Handbook. 2nd ed. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006. p. 168. 2 National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics: 2008. Ch. 2: Table 181. 3 Liu, Ed. Interviewed by Steve Drummond with a group of graduate students working with Susan Moore Johnson on the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers. “What Will It Take to Hold onto the Next Generation of Teachers?” HGSE News. Harvard Graduate School of Education. April 18 2002. p. 2. 4 Measures of Effective Teaching. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Sept. 2010:

Paula Smith Head of School

Sticky Curriculum

g n i r o t n Me


hen Morse c t e r G d n a y le by Susan Fo UCDS Faculty

As the students get ready to hear a story,

Each member of the school community is both a learner and a teacher.

a hush comes over the group. This story is special because it is the year’s first published student story in this class of 3, 4 and 5 year olds. When the year began, students were introduced to a language arts activity during which they were encouraged to write and draw, inspired by a subject of their choosing. The teaching that takes place during this activity looks very different from one student to the next and even from one day to the next. One student might explain to a friend how to draw a butterfly, another student might be the expert on what letters make the /ch/ sound, and another may be writing a sentence about his or her picture using best guess spelling. A teacher might work with a student focusing on identifying the beginning letter sound in a word or facilitate another student’s exploration of punctuation and capitalization. Teachers are also learning as students explain, in great detail which super villain fights Spiderman and what colors a poisonous snake would be, and disclose what they understand and what they plan to do next. Anyone observing begins to realize that teaching and learning roles at UCDS are shared and that who is teaching and who is learning changes according to circumstance. It appears that each member of the school community is both a learner and a teacher.

Teaching at UCDS has often been described as

coaching or mentoring and attributes of both are infused throughout the UCDS experience, inside and outside of the classroom. With the overarching goal of supporting and guiding the personal growth and development of all its members, the community strives to increase capacities for self-direction and decision-making. Other distinguishing features of mentoring or coaching are unqualified positive regard for each individual and trust built and maintained among those involved. These are essential underpinnings as the community works to enhance individual differences, as well as foster membership in the group. While much of this work takes place in formal planning or reflecting sessions, the mentoring experience takes advantage of real life, inthe-moment opportunities to teach and learn. Community members are encouraged to be open to help from others and reflective about their experience and themselves. The young author described above looked forward to writing time each day. She loved sharing her knowledge of letter sounds and techniques for drawing. With guidance from a teacher, she soon began writing sentences to go with her vibrant illustrations. As she became more skilled and confident in the writing process, she was encouraged to try writing a story. She took on the challenge enthusiastically, meeting with a teacher to consider the elements that make a story interesting to read. She created a story plan to guide her through weeks and weeks of crafting her story one page at a time. When she completed her writing, she helped to type and bind her masterpiece. Continued >


Now with the final draft in hand, our author reads her book to her class. Sitting in the audience is a boy who has not yet embraced writing and who cautiously accepts writing challenges. He has great interests in non-fiction books and knows many facts about a variety of machines and creatures. But when he considers subjects to write about, he often chooses to write and draw something he perceives as “easy.” For example, his notebook is filled with swirls and circles that he has labeled, “dirt, tornado, roller coaster, etc.” Although he has a strong grasp of letters and sounds, it is only with ongoing encouragement that he attempts to write more than a single word. As he listens to his classmate read her story, his eyes grow wide. He turns to his teacher and whispers, “Could I do that? Could I write a book?!” His teacher grins and nods, “Of course you can. What will you write about?” “Snakes,” he says, “or maybe spiders. I’m not sure yet if it will be a true story or if I’ll make something up!” He’s not the only one who leaves the circle ready to try something new at writing time tomorrow. Moments like these are the essence of learning at UCDS. UCDS is a community of learners designed so that every member is given the responsibility of both teaching and learning. This happens teacher to student, student to teacher, student to student and teacher to teacher. No one works in isolation. Everyone is called upon at one time or another to mentor and to listen, ask questions, share knowledge, explain thinking and build upon the ideas of others. Everyone has something to teach and something to learn. Just as we find in the real world, every individual has skills and knowledge to share as well as areas of challenge that need to be developed.

Teachers at UCDS take advantage of the diverse community within the classroom by inviting students to take an active role in mentoring each other. This does not mean that older students mentor younger students. Rather, every student is expected to take on both roles of mentor and protégé at various points in the day. Teachers spend a significant amount of time thoughtfully creating small groups for children to facilitate this practice. In the course of a single year, students are members of a wide variety of large and small groups of different children. Students are given opportunities to take on a variety of roles in the groups in which they work. Through regular reflection, students progressively understand how individuals support the group. Students are guided to set personal goals regarding their abilities to support and lead groups. Literature Groups, for example, provide countless opportunities to underscore the many skills involved in reading. A student who is still working on unlocking the secrets to decoding text may have astute insights to share with the group about a story that has been read to him. As students reflect on the many skills needed to be successful at Literature Circles, such as listening, summarizing, predicting, making connections, utilizing prior knowledge… it quickly becomes apparent that we all have room to improve and sitting among us are peers who can help us by sharing their knowledge and perspectives. Just as they mentor the children’s growth, teachers work to help each other grow in an energizing and stimulating work environment. Each year the teachers brainstorm and eventually choose a broad theme to explore. They innovate and create curriculum that integrates the theme across subjects. Teachers work together before the year begins to consider starting places based on the year’s theme. As the class begins this journey initiated by the teacher, limitless opportunities are encountered where the teacher can model discovery and inspire others to question. Teachers are mentored by their colleagues to venture outside their areas of expertise and, thus empowered, are able to direct learning in ways that make it relevant to the interests and experiences of the students. Because students are expected to actively pursue their interests as participants in the journey, their questions and wonderings often lead the group to deeper understanding. Students are routinely asked to reflect on their understanding and set goals for future learning. Through these reflections, teachers are able to assess individual progress and support the learning for each student.

Teaching as a Mentor Teaching at UCDS is dynamic. With the theme changing


every year and curriculum expected to be responsive to the unfolding understanding and interests of the class, teachers routinely create new lessons. If creating new lessons was taken on by an individual, it would indeed be a daunting task. At UCDS however, teachers work in teams, making the task exciting, interesting and invigorating. As we see with children, each teacher has unique interests and skills to share with the group. Teachers collaborate

with colleagues in a variety of groupings, from grade level teams to cross-school committees, and receive feedback and inspiration from their peers. Collaboration is an essential feature of the mentoring relationship; the time given to teachers to meet with various teams of peers clearly indicates that collaboration is highly valued at UCDS. For a teacher who is new to UCDS, teaching as part of a team can take getting used to. A system is in place to support and assist a new teacher’s personal growth with a focus on long-term personal career development. During a teacher’s first year, he or she is paired with an experienced member of the faculty. This mentor guides the new-to-UCDS teacher to define areas of personal strength and to clarify areas where the teacher desires or needs to grow professionally. Mentors listen; model community behaviors, attitudes and values; and make suggestions without stipulating outcomes. Key to the teacher mentor program at UCDS is the understanding that individuals are responsible for directing the course of their own lifelong learning adventures. Teachers are encouraged and supported to actively advocate for their own professional development and personal career goals and to initiate courses of action. Teachers use the Teacher Profile, developed by the teachers at UCDS, to guide the peer mentoring process. During the next two years, the new-to-UCDS teacher continues this process with the same mentor; however, the pair now shares roles, each giving as well as receiving support and feedback from the other. Because individual teachers are empowered to set professional goals, the process continues to be relevant and powerful. Over the years, for example, teachers have set goals ranging from documenting children’s work to learning new technology to completing advanced degrees. Division Heads closely guide the teacher mentoring process, and each teacher at UCDS also meets with the Head of School to discuss goals and evaluation throughout the school year. The school supports the mentoring process through workshops, in-service training and continuing education opportunities. Mentoring is not simply a practice that UCDS teachers periodically plug into school days; it is a core value seen throughout the school on many levels. This issue explores what that mentorship relationship looks like in several ways. What follows are several portraits of mentorship at UCDS. Katharine Sjoberg and Kerrie Hecko explore how graduating 5th grade students and teachers create a mentor-mentee relationship through Service Learning Projects. Betsy Watkins and Meg Herland’s article paints a picture of how faculty members mentor each other on an ongoing basis. Julie Kalmus and Diane Chickadel write about the Resident Teacher Program, where ten young teachers work side by side with established faculty each year, infusing learning, new energy and curiosity into the school.

Mentoring is encouraged in several forms each school day. Here, students are coached to explore new technology (opposite), 3-4 students take turns leading Class Meetings (top), Music Specialist Matt Swanson and guest musicians mentor students in jazz composition and performance (middle) and a second grader coaches a classmate on a writing assignment.


Creative Fusion

Service by Kerrie Hecko and Katharine Sjoberg UCDS Faculty

All eyes are on the fifth grade students

6 6

as they work on their Service Learning Projects. Throughout their tenure at UCDS, students are given opportunities to serve as team members and leaders and practice asking questions to further their growth as learners and community members. At the same time, they are witnesses to the Service Learning Projects of fifth graders each year. By the time students reach fifth grade, they are eager with anticipation to have the role of a Service Learning Student and all the responsibilities that come with it. Aristotle writes, “What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing.” As each student works to make a difference in our community, they practice the skills so desperately needed by socially conscious leaders in communities everywhere.

The final year at UCDS is referred to as the “Moving On” year for fifth grade students. Taking the natural excitement that comes from being the oldest in the school and combining it with an opportunity to give back, or explore beyond oneself, seemed like an innate combination. Confidence and capability surface for these fifth grade students. Each has something to contribute and share to build the community both internally at UCDS and globally. Service Learning is about making a difference and identifying needs within the community. During the fifth grade year, students learn to initiate, model leadership skills, take responsibility and learn how to follow through on a big project. Service Learning is an element of the curriculum that is unique to the fifth grade program, providing

Learning (Our unique fifth grade year) opportunities for personal growth. Students are challenged to increase their responsibilities, manage their time and develop communication skills while setting individual goals for the project. Service Learning Projects take many forms, integrating project-based community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the student’s learning experience. They strengthen communities and students’ relationships within the community, teach civic responsibility and change both the community and the student. Service Learning promotes problem solving, cooperation and collaboration in meaningful ways, which are all important aspects of the UCDS philosophy. Each project has many layers including project organization, public speaking, teaching and service.

Service Learning Projects have evolved throughout the years. Some projects were added as technology or current events inspired change, but structural changes have occurred as well. Historically, Service Learning Projects began by pairing one or two students with a single teacher to work with throughout the year. Fifth grade teachers provided support and guidance throughout the process, as they continue to do currently; however, most of the project was a one on one student/teacher combination. Students were placed in a project that honored each student’s strengths while providing a challenge, a place for the student to be stretched beyond their comfort zone. Projects included shadowing UCDS teachers, assisting with lesson planning and teaching in

Spanish, Science, Literature Groups, Music, Math, Art, Technology and PE. Students also worked with the Admission Committee to greet prospective parents during tours in the fall and winter, wrote for the Weekly, worked on the yearbook and assisted with after-school clubs. Each student (or pair of students) was paired with a faculty mentor to support them during the yearlong process. In this iteration of the Service Learning Projects, Moving On students met with mentors and created their own timeline for the project. This meant that many projects were similar (such as the “teaching assistant”) yet run independently of each other. Although successful, this model did not represent the UCDS collaboration and committee structure used throughout the school. Continued >


yrinth b a l a ching I realized a e t s n “I wa t but the m her n o stude earning fr ent l Stud rning a e L I was vice e Ser too” –5th Grad

Faculty and staff members meet in committees to support and enhance many areas of UCDS. Each faculty member is a part of a committee (Admission, Community Development, Curriculum, Faculty Coordinating, Special Events) that serves a particular leadership purpose in the school community. Since an important aspect of the Service Learning Project is to support students toward a better understanding of UCDS and their learning community, faculty considered the relationship of Service Learning to the roles of each committee. We found that many former Service Learning Projects

could be aligned with an existing committee, and noticed that committees all had additional needs for Service Learning Students. Aligning projects with faculty committees had a variety of benefits. Instead of one faculty mentor, students now had a group of faculty advisors from different areas of the school. Similar projects that were previously run in isolation could now be combined to provide collaborative opportunities. Rather than assigning a student to a project and a mentor, a group of students could be assigned to a committee. The focus shifted from a “teaching” project to a more service-oriented project, requiring teamwork with fellow Moving On Students, communication and collaboration with a variety of faculty members, as well as sharing work with the entire UCDS community. All students now collaborate with each other and with the faculty members of each committee. This new structure allows multiple mentors to work with groups of service learning students bringing a variety of ideas and strengths. It also provides natural opportunities for modeling collaboration among peers. Under the committee structure, Service Learning Projects have taken on a larger piece of community education. For example, Moving On Students in the Special Events Committee researched Georgia O’Keeffe and Antoni Gaudi before biographer Rachel Rodriguez visited. They created a presentation to share information about these biographical figures and the author herself to every class in the school. One Service Learning Student noted, “I learned about new art strategies


[for] making posters and advertising. I learned about speeches and giving presentations. It took a lot [of preparation] because we all did our different part [of the slideshow] and we had to present all of the different parts, including ours and the other people’s. [The presentation] always comes out different, depending on the audience and the age.” Another Service Learning Student said, “Being on the committee, you get very involved in everything. You are planning things or building things and having the [behind the scenes] view and [thinking], I get to do this cool stuff for other people!” The Community Development Committee students created a “RunWalk-Skip-a-thon” to raise money for Haiti and organized a food drive. In order to make those events run smoothly, the Moving On Students in that committee also visited classrooms to inform and educate the UCDS community about their work. One fifth grader reflected, “I didn’t really know about Haiti, and the earthquake had us learn all about it. When we were deciding where the money would go, we [learned] not as much of the aid was going to the smaller towns, which are poorer than the capital. So we gave [the money] to a foundation that rebuilds schools in really small towns.” Project selection involves both students and teachers, seeking to balance the students’ interests while stretching them beyond their comfort zone. There are several times throughout the year for Moving On Students to share their progress and goals for their projects informally and formally. The first, usually occurring in the winter, is an informal sharing session with the entire fifth grade and the 4-5 teachers. At this presentation each committee stands up to share their work thus far, their goals and next steps. The final presentation is more formal, often occurring at the end of May. This presentation has a bigger audience, including all third and fourth graders and any available faculty members.

Across UCDS, Service Learning Students find unique ways to support their fellow students, the school culture and the world outside of the school doors. Bottom left, a fifth grader teachers students in the Half Day Program about artist Georgia O’Keeffe in preparation for a Literature Week activity he and peers have created. Top left, members of the Special Events Committee brainstorm ways to capture the yearly theme into Theme Week activites. Below, Early Elementary students take part in the Community Development Committee’s RunWalk-Skip-a-thon for Haiti redevelopment.

In addition, students keep a journal throughout the duration of the Service Learning Project. The journal aids in organization including dates of meetings and a recording of upcoming tasks, and it is also a tool for reflection. Reflections range from specific details: “it helps me to make a list when I am teaching early elementary students” to big concepts: “when everyone works together we can create so much more.” Both written summaries and group presentations are equally important for students to develop the skills to set goals and face challenges in the future.

levels, though I mostly stayed in the Studio. What I learned there is how they interact with each other and teachers. I learned that when they try to talk to you, you have to really pay attention because what they say to you isn’t always verbal. They always use hand motions of trying to explain because they don’t really know the words sometimes.” Another student wrote “We’ve done so many things on this committee. I could keep going and going but I guess that’s for next years fifth graders”. Each project brings challenges and rewards unique to each student.

Another important aspect of the process of Service Learning is meeting with the committee. Each committee has a slightly different meeting structure, due to the wide variety of projects. Also, projects in a committee may vary each year and continue to grow and change based on student input, influence from the yearly theme, etc. Attending scheduled meetings; creating lessons, events or guides; and facing deadlines are all tasks taken on by each Moving On Student. One recent Service Learning Student said, “I was on the Curriculum Committee and I went through the different

In the final weeks of the school year, fifth graders finish up last-minute tasks and journal reflections, preparing for the program culmination. They end their Service Learning Project by presenting a summary to teachers, staff and students. Reflecting on the high points, challenges and “ah-ha” moments throughout the length of their project, students share what they have learned both the expected and unexpected. “I was teaching a labyrinth student but then I realized I was learning from her too.” They offer advice to those

who will soon find themselves as new fifth graders. Some also reflect on how exciting and gratifying it is taking on a project unique to their fifth grade year. Each student moves on with a set of important communication and collaboration tools, preparing them for their new school community.

“I le a grea rned th t can er com at there m b the e help unity is a th c e UCD ommun d, not at ju S.” ity i nsid st –5th e Grad e Serv ice L earn i

ng S tude



What Works

The Experienced Teacher Cohort: by Meg Herland and Betsy Watkins, UCDS Faculty


mm u n i t y Co St ,

r ds h ip

-R e lf

a ew

A Year of Questions, Collegiality and Reflection With Mentor Teachers



The 2010-2011 Experienced Teacher Cohort meets in the fall to identify a group topic.


The UCDS Community was posed with a question: how do we mentor our established faculty? As is often the case at UCDS, the process began with a brainstorm. On a spring afternoon, seven colleagues gathered around a large table for a meeting. The purpose was to discuss a brand new addition to the mentorship programs at UCDS – The Experienced Teacher Cohort. A spirited discussion ensued, and ideas for possible collective topics of focus emerged. This group of teachers, from a variety of grade levels within the school, would be the first of its kind. The cohort would meet regularly during the next school year. The goal: learning together, sharing insights and reflecting on our various roles in the life of the school. The discussion reflected some of the unique characteristics of faculty life at UCDS and set the groundwork for a new kind of mentorship: a side-by-side process of learning and growing as experienced teachers. While the process for mentoring teachers who are new to UCDS is well established, the faculty had recently wondered about ways to best support teachers of three or more years at UCDS. In a school with a remarkably low teacher turnover, we began to think about the many subtle ways we provide

mentorship to practiced teachers. Evidence of mentorship already existed throughout the school– particularly in the way teachers team together and support each other in grade level groupings. While it became clear that informal mentoring practices were already in place, we began to examine ideas for formalizing a process that would have a broader reach throughout the faculty. How might this mentorship of experienced teachers serve the purpose of furthering teachers’ individual goals? And how might it benefit the broader school community? The UCDS Community Development Committee, a small group of faculty and staff members responsible for coordinating events and structures that strengthen the school culture, was the first to respond to these questions. Discussions within this committee revealed multiple purposes for establishing a cohort of experienced teachers. An initial goal was to parallel a school-wide culture of mentorship in a program for continuing faculty members. The committee established that the program should be intended as a year of both reflection and renewal–a year in which teachers might focus on personal goals with the guidance of a self-selected peer coach. This year was also intended to serve as a way to develop collegiality among a cross section of faculty members and allow senior teachers to act as stewards



rd ship

f l e

n u i m ty m o

and practical aspects of technology in the classroom. With time to delve deeply into our chosen topic, time to relax and time to play, we left our two-day retreat feeling recharged and invigorated. Eager to share the results of our retreat discussion with the entire UCDS faculty, we hosted part of an in-service day to present our list of core values. We gladly discussed and amended our list to reflect the thoughts of our community as a whole. Over the course of the school year, we met with the faculty several more times—facilitating conversations about technology hardware and software wish lists, as well as questions and ideas about our topic. The capabilities of electronic whiteboards, the shortage of outlets available for laptop usage and even the training for how to use digital cameras or particular computer programs all became fodder for discussion. Concurrently, individual teachers met with peer coaches and worked on their personal goals. Our cohort members had achieved our collective goal of creating a school-wide dialogue around technology. We facilitated conversations with small and large groups of our peers, and out of those discussions came some lasting results, such as the acquisition of some new educational technologies to enhance our programs, technology coaching and the reaffirmation of some of our tried and true techniques as well. Each spring, the process begins anew, with a different but equally diverse group of faculty members. New topics emerge, and the next Experienced Teacher Cohort sets out on their own journey. And of course, the process begins with a brainstorm.


f l ect i e R o



think about a faculty member whom we could ask to support us in our individual goals. In the fall, we met at scheduled meetings with our school administrators to discuss our individual goals and propose our ideas for a faculty peer coach. With both the group topic and our personal goals in mind, our own Assistant Head of School, along with an administrative colleague from a neighboring independent school, planned the Cohort’s fall kickoff. With the fresh perspective of a mentor unaffiliated with UCDS, we embarked on a two-day, off-campus experience. At a nearby retreat center, our group of experienced teachers met to think broadly about our chosen topic. What exactly is technology? How were we using it already? In what ways did we want to use it? How comfortable were we with technology? The first Experienced Teacher Cohort was underway. Our initial conversation revealed much. Our group, which consisted of classroom teachers, specialists and early elementary teachers as well as teachers of our oldest students, had varying comfort levels using technology. Each person’s point of view helped create a broader perspective. From these fruitful discussions, guided by our well-prepared facilitators, emerged a set of core educational values that we agreed could be useful in helping us to evaluate new technologies. The list included things like accessibility, mobility and continued opportunities for education. With this common set of values in hand, we spent the weekend in conversation, work and play. While talking over delicious meals, laughing and even experimenting with some of the technologies our students frequently use, we considered philosophical


to the faculty as a whole. Next, the Community Development Committee proposed a process that would allow teachers to rotate into a cohort every several years and work with a new grouping of the faculty each time. They outlined a schedule for the year and created tentative groupings to represent teachers from various experiences and perspectives. In order for the program to evolve, the committee left ample room for the new cohort’s experiences to further define the process. At that initial spring meeting with our Assistant Head of School, energy was high in our cohort as we reviewed the schedule for the upcoming year. We generated a diverse list of possible topics of focus, ranging from investigating environmental sustainability as an organization to exploring neurology in education. While many topics garnered interest from cohort members, the subject of technology emerged as a front-runner. We had not formally examined this topic before, yet it was an issue each of us encountered on a daily basis. Even our youngest students are adept consumers of technology. In our classrooms we use it to enhance curriculum—whether taking digital photographs to document student learning, helping a student film a video for a Service-Learning Project, or using the internet as a research tool. This was a topic with diverse aspects that piqued the group’s interest and addressed an existing need in the school. We also shared some of our personal goals. The goals were as varied as the members of the group, including things like improving visual presentation in a classroom, enhancing communication skills as a resident mentor and applying to a graduate program. We had until the following fall to consider ideas about technology. We also began to



What Works

Mentorship Through Collaboration: The Resident Teacher Program’s Evolution and Practice by Diane Chickadel and Julie Kalmus, UCDS Resident Program Coordinators


“I know what kind of teacher I am going to be and it means so much to know what that feels like and means while I digest all of this pedagogy and philosophy.” -FORMER UCDS RESIDENT

For the past fifteen years, UCDS has welcomed over 120 teachers to join its Resident Teacher Program. Over the years, many keep in touch, sending stories about the impact that a year of teaching at UCDS had on their professional lives. Sitting on a 400 acre winery in Napa, a surprise reunion occurs between a past Resident and current UCDS teacher. She is now running her family’s business and expecting her first child. Five years have passed since her time at UCDS and touring the beautiful vineyards, one can’t help but marvel at the quality of the collaborations and energy between her and the winery staff, “I can trace it back to my Resident year,” she offers, “one of the best things I took away from the program was the idea that I should always be thinking about how I can influence those around me to be their best selves and how I should be too.” Days later, a different Resident writes to current faculty. She is in graduate school now and hungry to have her own classroom. Several years out of the program, she reflects, “It’s funny, a lot of grad school is about how to fix problems and meet standards. To be clear, these are good things to think about. But I know that I don’t just want to fix problems for kids. I want us to build solutions together. I know what kind of teacher I am going to be and it means so much to know what that feels like and means while I digest all of this pedagogy and philosophy.”

Through the Resident Teacher Program, UCDS has been working to refine a unique immersion experience for beginning teachers that is symbiotic with the experienced teachers they work beside. Since its inception, the UCDS Resident Program has sought to model exceptional team collaborations for its students while asking: What is the impact on new teachers of doing real work in education beside an invested mentor with targeted professional development and a cohort of peers? The journey started when UCDS recognized that purposeful, continuing professional support and collaboration among its faculty directly impacted the quality of student life. To this end, it looked to recreate and invigorate a traditional teacher assistant program. Because of the inherent hierarchy and lack of consistency, this program often felt like an afterthought. The school had some wonderful assistants over the years to be sure, but the quality of their work often seemed a reflection of the quality of their personality, as opposed to the school’s support of their work. Looking back, the school knew that new teachers had so much to offer–energy, enthusiasm, new ideas, new questions and different perspectives. Was there a way to redesign the “teaching assistant” program that would give new teachers practical experience while giving the school the benefits of more eyes and minds on individual students?

It was time to try something new, something more intentional. We looked to other professions for models that gave beginning professionals an opportunity to partner with more experienced colleagues in purposeful ways. Many of the experiences and structures that made medical residencies work for beginning doctors seemed like they could be applied to teaching residencies for beginning educators. In 1996, the school decided to capitalize on its culture of collaboration and innovation to create a new Resident Teacher Program. With the change in name came a change in culture. It began by looking at hiring, professional development, partnership and mentorship in new ways. Instead of hiring people who were interested in being “assistants,” the school aimed to hire people who were deeply interested in education and children and partnered them with mentors who would collaborate and teach beside them, not assign them tasks to perform. Further, to support Residents as they entered a new community and partnership, and to support mentor teachers as they developed their skills as partners and mentors, the school also created a Resident Program Coordinator position. In 1996, the school hired its first Resident Teacher and launched the program. Continued >



The following year, the first cohort of Resident Teachers was hired to work with the Early Elementary students and faculty. As the program blossomed, ownership and investment grew across the school. Established faculty discussed the value of mentorship and collaboration, and within a five-year period, the Resident program grew to include Resident Teachers who worked with each level at the school. Currently, the school employs ten new Residents each year.

Over the years, the most exciting consequence of the new model was the least expected. Teaching has changed. To truly collaborate, mentors and Residents have to have regular conversations about individual students and the class as a whole. The fruits of these conversations lead to more targeted work with individuals, more consistency and follow-through in classroom culture and greater depth and cohesiveness in curriculum planning and delivery.

From the first day of employment, Residents are welcomed as full faculty members. Each Resident works in one to four classrooms, sits on a faculty committee, participates in all curriculum planning and professional development, facilitates large and small group teaching, plans and leads parent conferences and writes student reports. For mentors, mentorship has become about listening to ideas, sharing ideas and building classrooms and curriculum together. The expectation that Residents to do the same demands that each one engage more deeply in both the development of ideas and the practice of their work with students. The model showcases a different depth, pace and expectation than student teaching or an assistant position could offer.

On top of the in class and after school (and often, before school) conversations that Residents have with their teaching teams, they are also a part of a peer cohort of Residents that share similar experiences. The cohort meets three times a month during the school day with the Resident Coordinators to support professional development and a broader understanding of and investment in school culture. Meeting together as peers provides an opportunity to reflect, share strategies and successes and ask questions. Once a month, mentors meet as a group as well to discuss ways to support Residents. Over time, patterns in conversation paralleled both groups in interesting ways. When Residents were

interested in classroom management and how to find the “right” way to jump into tricky situations, mentors were interested in how to bring language to the “right” ways that they jumped in and share that knowledge with Residents. When parent conferences were on the horizon, both Residents and mentors wanted shared voices contributing to the dialogue with parents. Curriculum design, report writing and group facilitation all fell into similar alignment. The school also created informal and formal professional development structures to support understanding and success around these topics. It is not always easy. You cannot just ask someone to be a mentor or mentee and expect it to be a perfect marriage. True partnership takes time and effort. It builds itself over conversation, generation, experimentation, laughter and trust. Open communication, flexibility, a strong work ethic, an ability to self-advocate, a true passion for children, high expectations and a good sense of humor have risen as critical qualities for both Mentors and Residents to share. As the school recruits new Residents each year, these are all qualities it seeks. Culturally, the school has continued to recommit itself to the importance of welcoming new Resident faculty each year onto the team. It forces everyone in the community to rearticulate our philosophy, beliefs and approach and requires each team to build community and its curricular program anew. This collaboration is the energy that ignites the excitement and interest of faculty, students and their families as they enter the school’s doors each day. In this model, Mentorship is a partnership that allows each Resident to “influence those around me (them) to be their best selves” and identify “what kind of teacher I am going to be.” s

The Resident Program: A Year at a Glance February-June of year prior: Hiring Process June: Residents are hired, suggested reading lists are mailed and paperwork is completed.

July: Placement decisions are made. Residents have already signed contracts at this point. Residents are contacted and welcomed by their mentor teacher.

Goals and Purposes of the Resident Teacher Program UCDS

• Infuse new energy and ideas to an established faculty • Lower teacher/student ratios • Provide a learning environment for new teachers that prepares them to teach independently • Facilitate collaboration among teaching teams • Provide faculty the professional development opportunity of sharing their knowledge through mentorship • Share the school’s philosophy with the broader community


• Infuse new energy and ideas into the classroom • Ensure diversity in teaching styles for students • Broaden insights on classroom dynamics, curriculum and teaching styles • Provide opportunity for reflection on teaching philosophy and practice • Every current lead classroom teacher has served as an assigned mentor to a Resident over their tenure at the school.


August: Employment begins the 2nd week of August. During

the first week of employment, Residents attend a week-long math workshop. During the last two weeks of August, Residents meet with their teaching team, participate in student home visits, plan curriculum for the start of the year and attend faculty meetings.

September: School begins. Residents begin their weekly cohort

meetings. Residents meet as a cohort to discuss transitions, observations, successes and challenges. They focus on building teaching relationships with fellow teachers and with students and their families. Residents present at Parent Night with teaching team. They begin formally observing students and present these children to one another. Mentor teachers meet with Resident Coordinators to discuss strengths and challenges.

October: Residents create written goals for program. They meet

individually with Resident Coordinators to discuss goals and gather feedback. Meetings of cohort continue to prepare for conferences. All Residents attend PNAIS All Schools Conference. Mentor meetings continue.

November - December: Curriculum responsibilities increase. Weekly meetings introduce different philosophies or approaches in education including learning styles, class management and assessment. Report writing strategies are brainstormed. Mentor meetings continue.

January: Residents participate in narrative writing seminar. In

tandem with their mentor, each Resident is responsible for writing four student narrative reports and marking continua. Meetings this month address Resident observations, questions and concerns. Mentor meetings continue.

February: Residents begin meetings to discuss future plans. Resident Coordinators inform Residents of job listings at other schools, practice interview skills, revise resumes and provide support for Residents to begin the interview process.

March: Spring conferences. Partnered with mentors, Residents

• Gain useful, hands-on experiences that will further professional growth

begin planning and leading conferences. Career planning continues as do weekly meetings. Resident goals are revisited and revised individually with the Coordinators. Mentor meetings continue.

• Collaborate and learn from experienced teachers

April-June: Residents plan curricular events, write spring reports

• Network among other educators • Gain clarity on their professional path (answer the question, “what is the next step?)

and attend overnight field trips. Career support continues. Residents go into the broader community to visit other schools and network with other educators. Mentor and cohort meetings focus on personal growth and strategies. The cohort reflects on the year and the program and offers feedback for future planning.


People Who Inspire Us

I was inspired just by seeing how education can be. At the end of the 2009-2010 school year, the ten-member

UCDS parent, John Neilson loved ideas; those he found in literature and those he gained through a deep appreciation of world culture, math, science, art, music, philosophy and physical excellence. In 1999, at the age of thirty-eight, John lost a hard fought battle against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In honor of John’s life, The Neilson Endowment Fund was created. Through the Teacher Education Center at UCDS, we use this endowment to create and share programs that offer children access to big ideas. John was an inspiration to us in life and we dedicate this, ‘People Who Inspire Us’ section to him.


Resident teacher cohort sat together to talk about their experiences in the Resident program, how their expectations for the year compared with their experiences and their unique position of mentoring students while simultaneously learning about their craft as teachers. What follows are excerpts of their discussion. For more information about the Resident Program, be sure to read the article by Diane Chickadel and Julie Kalmus in the previous What Works section.

An interview with the 2009-2010 Resident Teacher Cohort SPARK: As young professionals, how have your experiences at UCDS shaped your perspective on teaching? Ellie: I think it sets the standard high, for the quality of the work environment and the collaboration, and just feeling respected and listened to. I think that’s really unique when you’re coming in as a young person in a more experienced crowd of teachers, to feel like your voice is recognized. It’s exciting to walk away with! Anna: It also shows how, working in a classroom that’s really diverse, you’re able to work with each kid at their level and challenge them in a way that makes sense for them. It’ll be interesting to put that emphasis into other communities. Kristin: Collaborative teaching methods provide the students with so many more resources – every single teacher knows what kids are working on, even the ones who aren’t in their class. Kids can feel like they have 12 teachers in their level, not just two.

Erin: I think as a young professional too, it’s been exciting to have access to every aspect of the school. We have a very broad job description, shifting levels and meeting with different teams, and it helps to not be so narrow in our scope. Nate: I agree with that. In terms of being a young, new teacher, this place has shown me a world I didn’t know existed, only having been educated with my own schooling. There’s so much that’s possible that I didn’t even know about. SPARK: How has the program supported you in preparing for a career in the field of education. What supports have you had from your team, each other, your mentor? Andrea: It’s been wonderful how everyone in the community is there for you. I’ve talked not just to my own mentor and people on my team, but to everyone at our school about getting resources. It’s very clear that people have so many ideas and such a broad network of people who are able to expand on it.

Rosalind: I think the collaborative teaching style is great for kids because they get tons of modeling from teachers, but it’s the same for us. We have 25 amazing teaching models for whatever teaching situation you’re in, and you can channel that person’s influence, the awesome way they have of doing something. Megan: All of the workshops that we’ve been at have been really helpful too, like the Math Workshop, and conversations about behavior modification and language arts. It has really helped shape what I’ve done in the classroom. Celeste: People are just so accessible and helpful. Kristin: It was so much more than I expected or bargained for. I expected the classroom experience, but the broad scope of how a school runs, how a curriculum is written, was a pleasant surprise. I was so pleased to get a sneak peek into the whole world of education, not just classroom teaching. SPARK: What sort of expectations did you have coming into the year as far as what this role would entail?

Nate: I think I was expecting to feel like an apprentice, and I think the program creates a really great apprenticeship while at the same time immersing us Continued >


in the full responsibility for all of the things we’re participating in. Anna: I think that goes into the question about our support system. Teachers are able to support us no matter how much experience we’ve had, not talking over our heads, totally on our level and helpful. Erin: There were writing reports and leading conferences, and just being in the classroom without the mentor teacher, and being encouraged to independently take that responsibilitywhich has been so great because it feels like we’re being supported, but our hands aren’t held. It helps you build your confidence. Celeste: I’ve definitely had the experience where a teacher says, “why don’t you do this, Celeste?” It was nice to be pushed gently occasionally and asked to take over. Ellie: My expectation was to learn what school looked like on the day to day basis, how it broke down minute to minute and the language that you used with the kids. It totally met my expectations. Like Nate and Erin said, you’re gradually growing deeper within it over the year. For instance, at the Resident goals meeting, it wasn’t like “these are the goals for you,” it was “what do you want your goal to be?” You can choose what goal you want your mentors to watch you on and you’re just so empowered in that process.


little and didn’t feel totally comfortable in the classroom? Or that you reflected on it later and learned?

Nate: I remember, early on in the year, stepping up to facilitate conflict resolution conversations where I was the only one present and just thinking, “okay, we’re going to figure this out together.” Rosalind: Whenever those situations arose, I remember thinking “I can’t believe that they’re trusting us with this!” (Laughs) And then thinking, “I have to stop thinking about that, because right now this is what we’re doing!” I remember later, just realizing how much the community trusts us. You grow so much out of those scary feelings. SPARK: And that’s something that never goes away, even if you’ve been here for years and years- you always find yourself in that position! And you know if it completely falls apart, you’re going to learn a lot and it’ll be okay. Rosalind: It’s the gift and the curse of having great mentors- when you have great models, and you see things working the way that they should be, you have to remember that it takes a while to get there. Erin: Yeah, it’s that funny balance between “should I try to emulate and be just like a teacher? Or put my own spin on it?”

Rosalind: As we learn from mentors, it helps us remember that we do the same thing for the kids. So you start thinking about what you do from that angle. It’s a nice way to make decisions about the community and how to mentor in classroom when you’re being mentored yourself.

Celeste: It’s been really exciting! This spring I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with stepping into new situations. I’m not always sure how another teacher might answer this question or that question, but having the comfort to answer it as well as I can, I feel like I can trust myself to make a decision.

SPARK: Playing off that idea, talk a little about being provided opportunities to take risks in the classroom. Was there a time that you pushed the envelope a

SPARK: Thinking about next year, what are you going to take away from your experience here that you’ll take with you wherever you go?

Andrea: For me it’s the importance of figuring out the balance of flexibility and listening. That sometimes your idea might not be the best idea, and also kind of knowing when you should push for what you believe in, and how wonderful that can be too. Ellie: The learning process itself is so highly valued here- in terms of us and kids. That, it’s not necessarily what you learn but how you learn it. Kristin: One of the things here that I love and think is genius is Class Meeting. I’ve done things that are similar in a way, but it’s wonderful here. It can work with any age group, it’s calming, and makes people feel like they’re being heard. You can use that in so many different leadership positions. It works so beautifully here. SPARK: Continuing to think about unique aspects of the program, what else has stood out to you as being really different, completely unique to UCDS? Celeste: There’s a sense that UCDS just likes to shake things up. People move levels and programs change, and new residents come in every year. It’s constantly changing and constantly shifting. Most places are like, ”this is the way that we do things, and that’s it!” Rosalind: Yeah, it’s the least lethargic place ever. Nobody is going to not do something because it’s a lot of work. Whitney: the way that the curriculum is built, that’s amazing to me. I’ve always been handed a curriculum in the past, but here we build it, a week at a time. That level of responsibility is really unique. Anna: I think how we talk to the kids and what we expect of them is so much higher than I’ve ever seen before. From the time you get here, when you’re three or four, you have a job and that’s your job. You have to figure it out! Kids all rise to that challenge!

Kristin: I remember when I first applied for this job and taught a sample lesson, I noticed right away that the kids are so confident, empowered and comfortable to talk to teachers as peers. It was so noticeable from just a couple of hours that I spent here.

UCDS Bookshelf

Andrea: I remember it was the first day of Math Workshop and we were all making masks and it was really fun. One of the teachers comes up to our table and says “it was busy and loud in here, but didn’t it work fine?” But of course, that’s exactly what UCDS is. It works so flawlessly as a community. Rosalind: I think about the flexibility of the curriculum. Let’s not pass up new opportunities when they happen! When the oil spill happened in the spring, we followed it. It touched every discipline and it became a resource in every academic area and helped kids really understand what was happening. SPARK: What has been the most inspiring for you this year? Anna: Watching teachers. Nate: Seeing young people so empowered and in control of their own life and own journey. Celeste: I was inspired by seeing when a kid can explain not just what they know, but how they know something, the self awareness that UCDS really fosters. I just learn so much from them. Kristin: I was inspired just by seeing how education can be, how it can be made to work with so much flexibility in the curriculum and classroom management. The flexibility with planning and activities and looking back on the year and how much we’ve done, the flexibility we give to kids in the classroom. We let them try something and then we all figure it out together!

Daniel Coyle The Talent Code Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. Alaska’s Daniel Coyle is a contributing editor for Outside magazine and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestseller Lance Armstrong’s War. In The Talent Code, Coyle argues that talent rises from the kind of repeated, targeted, focused practice that one does. From Manny Ramirez’s obsessive practice in the batting cage to the coaches and mentors who encourge students, Coyle argues that success is far less reliant on genetic pre-disposition than it is a result of practicing – hard. As a parent, Coyle says of mentoring the art of practicing in his own children, “I don’t worry that my kids have some hidden untapped genius for something or other-instead, I keep an eye out for signs that they’re ignited.” Read excerpts from the book at Daniel Coyle will also visit UCDS in November to work with the faculty and as a part of our 2010-2011 TEC Speaker Series. Find out more at


Featured Reading


John Gottman Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

Daniel H. Pink DRiVE

The Heart of Parenting

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

John Gottman, a Seattle area Doctor of Clinical Psychology and groundbreaking researcher of marriage and parenting, presents this handbook for mentoring emotional development in children. Gottman explains how to coach children to regulate their emotional world to increase self-confidence, improve school performance and contribute to greater physical health and healthier social relationships. He bases his work on studies of several dozen families and their parenting techniques and then translates his methods into an easy, five-step “emotion coaching” process to help parents guide emotionally intelligent children on their journey toward emotionally intelligent adulthood.

Daniel Pink writes this detailed study of the difference between intrinsic versus external motivation. He suggests that the secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. The connections to learning are clear, and instructive in mentoring students to set goals and readily enter into challenging, enagaging learning situations. In addition to writing this compelling study of motivation, Pink is also a engaging, humorous public speaker. See his July 2009 talk about motivation on to see the remarkable voice behind his written words.

Spark Plugs

Carol S. Dweck, Ph. D. Mindset

Wendy Mogel, Ph. D. The Blessing of a Skinned Knee

The New Psychology of Success

Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children

Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck discusses the difference between fixed and growth-oriented mindsets. With a growth mindset, she argues, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. The growth mindset principal is teachable to all ages of thinkers, from Early Elementary students to their grandparents, a helpful tool for mentors to employ as they inspire students to grow.

Wendy Mogel is an internationally acclaimed clinical psychologist, author and public speaker. In The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, she distills the teachings of the Torah, the Talmud and other Jewish lessons, as well as contemporary psychological insights, into nine “blessings” that address key parenting issues. She writes, When I began studying Judaism, one of the first things that struck me was how directly it spoke to the issue of parental pressure. According to Jewish thought, parents should not expect their children to be anyone other than who they are. A Hasidic teaching says, “If your child has a talent to be a baker, don’t tell him to be a doctor.” What results is a helpful guidebook on the road to effective parental mentoring.


UCDS Board of Trustees Officers Kate Marks, Chair Greg Headrick, Vice Chair Janet Donelson, Treasurer Nan Garrison, Secretary Members at Large Howard Burton Michelle Goldberg Steve Hollomon Roger Page Julie West Prentice Peggy Rinne Eric Sanderson Jeff Taraday Faye Tomlinson Kobi Yamada Ex-Officio Members Paula Smith, Head of School Christine Leahy, Parent Association Betsy Watkins, Faculty

University Child Development School 5062 9th Ave NE Seattle, WA 98105 206-547-UCDS (8237) Fax 206-547-3615

The UCDS Mission University Child Development School is centered around the lives of children and is dedicated to the development of their intellect and character. We actively encourage, and the school everywhere reflects, the process of joyful discovery that is central to meaningful and responsible learning. Teaching is individualized and responsive to the talents of each student, and the curriculum is rigorous and integrates the concepts and skills embedded within the major disciplines. Our students are chosen for their promise of intellect and character and are selected from a crosssection of the community. Our faculty members are leaders in their fields, supported in advancing their studies and encouraged to share their knowledge widely. In pursuit of these ideals, and in recognition of obligations beyond the school itself, we strive to be an innovative leader in education, serving as a model for others.

University Child Development School


Spark #8, Fall 2010  

The culture of mentoring at University Child Development School.

Spark #8, Fall 2010  

The culture of mentoring at University Child Development School.