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Faculty Newsletter

September Faculty Newsletter

Each of these articles presents a somewhat counterintuitive point of view, creating interesting food for thought. Thanks, as always, to Richard Feliciano for making these newsletters look great on the website, and to Nicole Trevor and Cami Ryder for their excellent editing. In addition, it’s always welcome when people send in articlesplease keep the ideas coming! 

Peter Reuell, “Study shows that students learn more when taking part in classrooms that employ active learning strategies,” Harvard Gazette

Students absorb more from classrooms with active learning strategies, according to a new Harvard study published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Yet students believe they learn more from lectures. Thanks to Nicole Trevor for passing this along.

“Deep learning is hard work. The effort involved in active learning can be misinterpreted as a sign of poor learning,” said lead author Louis Deslauriers. “On the other hand, a superstar lecturer can explain things in such a way as to make students feel like they are learning more than they actually are.”

Cal Newport, “Was E-mail a Mistake?The New Yorker

Cal Newport, prolific author of Digital Minimalism and Deep Work, travels deep into the history of computer science to wonder if we should hold more meetings instead of sending more email. This is a fascinating read about the potential perils of “hyperactive asynchronous messaging” in the workplace today. Thanks to Patrick Ferry for this piece.

As e-mail was taking over the modern office, researchers in the theory of distributed systems—the subfield in which, as a computer scientist, I specialize—were also studying the trade-offs between synchrony and asynchrony. As it happens, the conclusion they reached was exactly the opposite of the prevailing consensus. 

Sylvia Allegretto, “Pay Teachers More, Because Women Have Other Options,The Atlantic

This data-rich article by a UC Berkeley economist looks at the recent history of U.S. women’s role in the labor force and argues for stronger state funding for public school teachers.

In our earliest work, we analyzed the 1960 census to get a long look at the trend. Women, who were shut out of most other occupations, represented 73 percent of teachers. In 1960, nearly half of all employed women with at least three years of college were elementary-school teachers and secondary-school teachers. 

One-Shot and Yearlong Local Seminars

The California Teacher Development Collaborative (CATDC), a go-to resource for many faculty, is offering an unusually wide range of local and Bay Area workshops this year. Many start in October, so take a look soon if you’re interested! Yearlong seminars, meeting two to four times, include Purposeful Design and Making, Transformation Coaching; Developing Your Leadership Capacity; Independent School Women’s Networking Series; Math and History Professional Learning Communities; Developing Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity; and Mindfulness in the K-12 Classroom. One- and two-day seminars include Navigating Those Tricky Conversations, Building Better Brains, and Public Speaking and Leadership Presence for Independent School Women.

Faculty Professional Growth Presentations

Faculty and Staff Summer Professional Growth, Part 1

So many faculty and staff participated in professional development this summer that we’ll highlight some now and some next month. Here is the first part of the list.

Posted by rfeliciano on Wednesday September 25
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May Faculty Newsletter

The most recent issue of NAIS’ Independent School magazine focuses on “Reimagining Schools,” and all three of these articles – whether from the magazine itself or simply inspired by the theme – consider change and collaboration. 

On having — and being — a role model,” Harvard Gazette

This interview about new leadership at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, with the first African-American dean of the school, focuses on the power of working together.

How do you shift to telling stories of collective impact? How do you encourage the entrepreneurship that you absolutely want your faculty, staff, and students to have but also help them harness those ideas and implement them not as isolated events but to knit those things together for even greater impact? 

Merlijn Venus, Daan Stam, and Daan van Knippenberg, “Research: To Get People to Embrace Change, Emphasize What Will Stay the Same,” Harvard Business Review

Explaining a vision for change can lead to buy-in, but at the same time it’s also helpful to describe what will remain the same.

A root cause of resistance to change is that employees identify with and care for their organizations. People fear that after the change, the organization will no longer be the organization they value and identify with — and the higher the uncertainty surrounding the change, the more they anticipate such threats to the organizational identity they hold dear. 

Robert Vitalo, “When Waiting for Buy-In Can Be a Roadblock,” Independent School

This piece narrates several different scenarios in which acceptance of change came at a variety of speeds.

For choices with a small number of decision-makers, the best approach is often an old-fashioned one: Give your mind the free time to mull it over. In a sense, the preparation for the choice should involve state-of-the-art strategies: premortems, scenario plans, expert roles, stakeholder charrettes. But once those exercises have widened your perspective and helped you escape your initial gut reactions, the next step is to let it all sink in and let the default network do its magic. Go for long walks, linger in the shower a little longer than usual, let your mind wander. – Steven Johnson 

Summer Workshops

EdTech Teacher Summer Institute, June and July 2019, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago

These two- and three-day seminars aim to expand knowledge and skills relating to technology in the classroom, with topics such as “Design Thinking & 3D Printing: Creative Innovative Learning Environments” and “Digital Storytelling: Creating & Publishing Dynamic Digital Stories.” 

Professional Work Highlights of Visual and Performing Arts Faculty

To finish off our year of recognizing faculty professional growth experiences, we wanted to highlight just some of the outside work done by our visual and performing arts faculty, whose growth is of course not limited to educational conferences! We will focus on more such professional work in the year to come.

  • Choral music teacher Steve Hill recently received a certificate of appreciation and recognition from the organization sponsoring the Grammys, as well as “lifetime member” status in Musician's Union Local #47, in recognition for over 35 years of membership as professional musician. 
  • This month, Performing Arts Department Chair Rob Lewis, along with science teacher Hilary Thomas, co-directed a sold-out run of Pippin (featuring dance teacher Molly Mattei and history teacher Will Bellaimey) at Lineage Performing Arts Center in Pasadena. In June, Mr. Lewis will be directing Beauty and the Beast Jr. with the Bay Area Children’s Theatre and teaching Broadway dance at the theater’s camp. In addition, last summer he played the role of Harry Houdini in Ragtime at the Contra Costa Civic Theatre in El Cerrito.
  • Drawing and painting teacher Melissa Manfull made a new body of work of agate-inspired abstractions for two exhibits that were shown from September to November 2019. The first was GeoOntological: Artists Contemplating Deep Time at Cerritos College, a group show focusing on artists who use geology in their work. The second was Frequency Response at the Sam Francis Gallery (Crossroads School) in Santa Monica, a four-person exhibit curated by the school’s photography teacher.
  • Instrumental music teacher Ross Margitza had the chance to perform in March with world-famous guitarist Russell Malone at Pete Carlson’s Golf and Tennis Shop in Palm Desert. Along with his own featured recordings, Malone’s credits include performing and recording with Harry Connick, Jr., Diana Krall, Ray Brown, and many other well-known musicians. In addition, last summer Dr. Margitza traveled to the Dominican Republic to perform at the Santo Domingo International Jazz Festival with the Zack Varner Quartet
  • The work of photography teacher and 9th Grade Dean Ricardo Rodriguez appeared in two exhibitions this year. The first, at the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard, was titled “World View/Cosmovisión.” Mr. Rodriguez co-curated and also created a piece for the second show, Puerto Rico: Interior/Exterior, which is up at Glendale Community College through May 31 and attempts to navigate the complicated connections between Puerto Rico and the mainland United States.
Posted by rfeliciano on Monday May 20
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April’s Faculty Newsletter

Each of these articles is weighty and fascinating in its own way, about the meaning of high school, the nature of educational reform and the psychology behind the college scandal. Also, the wide range of professional growth experiences that faculty have done recently continues to be impressive to see.


Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine, “High School Doesn’t Have to Be Boring,” New York Times

This piece, based on a seminal new book (In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School), argues that classroom teachers should take a page from the exuberant dedication that extracurriculars can inspire. 

The truly powerful core classes that we found—and at every school there were some—echoed what we saw in extracurriculars. Rather than touring students through the textbook, teachers invited students to participate in the authentic work of the field.  

Michael Brosnan, “The Evolution Is the Revolution,” Well-Schooled

This piece (featured on a new storytelling site for educators) was inspired by the recent passing of legendary educator Pearl Rock Kane, former director of the Klingenstein Program at Teacher’s College. In it, the author distills Kane’s ideas from years of Independent School articles and applies them to educational reform today.

What struck me in re-reading Pearl’s article is that she was describing a kind of leadership I see in more and more schools. Her insight on intraorganizational alliances was particularly timely. Pearl felt that the independent school leaders of the 1990s were too insular. “To be on the forefront of education,” she wrote, “independent school leaders will need to encourage pooling resources to share knowledge of successful practices and to investigate problems and concerns of common interest.” 

Caitlin Flanagan, “They Had It Coming,” The Atlantic 

This is perhaps the best article that has been written about the college admissions scandal.

The new job meant that I had signed myself up to be locked in a small office, appointment after appointment, with hugely powerful parents and their mortified children as I delivered news so grimly received that I began to think of myself less as an administrator than as an oncologist.

Summer Institutes

California Teacher Development Collaborative, a variety of local workshops

If you’re looking for a shot in the arm but don’t want to travel far, the CATDC is holding local summer seminars on a variety of topics, including “Leading and Facilitating Positive Change,” “Sexuality Education Summit” and “Design and Making: Tools, Applications and Strategies to Foster Student-Led Creativity and Innovation.”

Faculty Professional Growth Conferences

  • This month Global Studies Coordinator Ingrid Herskind participated in the Global Education Benchmark Group’s annual Global Educators Conference in Atlanta.
  • This month Assistant Librarian Reggie Ursettie flew to Boston for the Association of Independent School Librarians annual conference, Revolutionary Possibilities.
  • Director of Student Technology Services Sylvie Andrews went to Palm Springs in March for the Spring CUE Conference focusing on technological and educational innovation. 


Posted by rfeliciano on Monday April 15
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Located near Pasadena and Los Angeles in La Cañada, CA, Flintridge Prep is a private independent, coed day school for grades 7-12.
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