Last week saw the successful climax of a major endeavor for all Brown University MATs – the Teacher Research Project. Fondly known as the TRP, Teacher Research Projects involve each MAT, Elementary and Secondary English, History/Social Studies and Science cohorts alike, in examining their teaching practice with the goal of greater student growth and improved outcomes. During their student teaching semester, MATs identify an area in which students in their classroom are particularly struggling. Through an inquiry process, MATs then choose a guiding question, implement one or multiple interventions, collect data, analyze results, and report findings, implications and future investigations. The questions MATs chose to pursue this past semester speak to the range of MAT interests and an understanding of their learners’ needs, such as “How can podcasts be used to support student learning in multilevel secondary social studies classrooms?” and “How does explicit coaching and instruction on student questioning during math promote inter-student math talk?”
As has been tradition for several years, the presentations took place at Brown’s Office of Continuing Education in Providence’s Jewelry District. In attendance were Brown MAT alumni, mentor teachers, program faculty, family and friends of the program, as well as two featured speakers.
Providing an insightful keynote address to kick off the Teacher Research Project Conference was Jed Lippard ‘95, Head of School of Prospect Hill Academy Charter School. Lippard spoke briefly about his 20-year story in becoming an educator and school-leader, including his relationship with well-known education reformer and former Brown University professor Ted Sizer. He then presented his seven C’s for becoming a responsive teacher, each of which Lippard backed-up with personal anecdotes. Although we won’t go into detail, the seven C’s resonated across the audience and include: Check assumptions, find Conspirators, self-Care, Call it out, Cater to and cherish the child, Challenge conventional wisdom and, last but not least, Convene and connect. Lippard will be returning to Brown University on Saturday, May 24th, for a forum with Nancy Faust Sizer.
Longtime mentor teacher and friend of the Brown MAT program, Edward Abbott, History Teacher at Central High School, gave the mentor address. Abbott reflected on his years of relationship-building and teaching and learning with MAT student teachers that have been a part of his classroom. As Abbott is retiring from teaching this year, friends and past mentees were invited to reflect on what they have learned from Abbott, from teaching skills to life lessons. The sheer number of those who spoke about Abbott and the multitude of laughs and tears inspired are testament to the dynamism of this master teacher and mentor, as well as the close knit community that is the Brown MAT program.