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Fay's Culture of Building Leaders

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Fay's Culture of Building Leaders

Monday, October 25, 2021

This is a letter from the Head of School, Morgan B. Scoville, M.Ed., written to the 2021-2022 parents on October 21, 2021. 

Dear Fay Family,

Ambitious teaching and learning are the core of exceptional schools, and The Fay School is an exceptional school. At Fay, we employ evidence and research-based approaches to our teaching and learning from places like Teachers College at Columbia UniversityUniversity of ChicagoPeabody College at Vanderbilt University, Rice University, and even a sprinkling of Stanford University's d.school

Adding to our ambitious teaching and learning, Fay's Leadership Team will enhance how we support teachers as they develop their teaching craft while also guiding your child's leadership development and education. Internally, one of Fay's cultural strengths is a collaborative and professional culture where the faculty, staff, leadership, and board all align for our beloved school's tactical and strategic advancement. All of this alignment is for the sake of your child's future, so a step like the one described below is in our DNA!

Melissa Sherman, Fay's Principal, has been spearheading the implementation of Trust Based Observations (TBO) with the support of Alex Cammarota-Smith, Fay's Learning Specialist, and educational innovator, Craig Randall, and in collaboration with our all of our teachers. Craig will spend this entire week on our campus working alongside Melissa, Alex, and our teachers. This approach to teacher development, endorsed by renowned educational leaders John Hattie and Carol Dweck, will empower teachers with mindful innovation in their teaching craft because this professional growth process will allow for: Trust Based Observations representative, Craig Randall, visits Fay.

  • Using emotional intelligence to build upon already trusting relationships. 
  • Focusing on strengths. 
  • Eliminating evaluative grading of pedagogy. 
  • Using a manageable observation form. 
  • Committing time to make frequent observations of all teachers. 
  • Listening actively during timely, reflective conversations. 

Of paramount importance are the first two questions asked after each teacher observation (there are many throughout the year) and during the reflective conversation with the observed teacher. These two questions speak directly to the impact of your child's teacher on your child's learning and will advance Strategic Priority #2: 

  1. What were you doing to help students learn? 
  2. If you had the opportunity to reteach the entire lesson, what, if anything, would you do differently? 

Professor John Hattie, the author of Visible Learning (2009), said the below about TBO. (Hattie's meta study Visible Learning is a milestone of educational research. The Times of Educational Supplement called it the "holy grail of teaching." Hattie's book gives an evidence-based answer to the question "What works best for students' achievement?") 

"Trust Based Observations start where it matters, establishing trust, building on strengths, focusing on the impact of teachers on the learning lives of students, showing how to have open conversations about learning, and demonstrating collective teacher efficacy in action." -Professor John Hattie 

Stanford Professor Carol Dwek, the author of Mindset (2007), added about Trust Based Observations: 

"…indeed research shows that when students trust that educators believe in them and their development, their learning can be significantly enhanced." -Professor Carol Dweck 

Deliberately building and educating the future leaders of the world takes dedication, inspiration, and practice. It takes 100% community buy-in and trust to allow us to say "yes" to such an initiative. It also takes intention and strategy.  

Implementing TBO serves as an additional tactic by which we will successfully achieve priorities one and two in Fay's strategic plan. The Fay Family already enjoys a terrific team of Lead, Specials, and Assistant Teachers. After this week, we will further support them to thrive even more alongside your child! 

In support of our ambitious teaching and learning,

Morgan B. Scoville, M.Ed.