Our mission is to improve the educational and learning experience of all members of educational communities through the judicious use of research-based best practices that focus on enriching relationships, instruction and cognition.
What I believe:
Teaching is a complex interplay of art and science. When educators understand how these disciplines coalescence to result in meaningful, memorable learning experiences, everyone benefits. Students. Teachers. Administrators. Parents. Community.
I have been a student of instruction and how the brain learns for the past two decades. In the early 1990’s, as a classroom teacher, I began a quest to understand how my students learn. I wanted to know why some students seemed to grasp concepts easily, while others languished. I wanted to know why some lessons are so memorable, while others leave students with amnesia. My goal has been learn as much as I can in order to propel my students’ learning. This quest brought me to the amazing world of neuroscience. It was one of those rare watershed moments in an educator’s career - an experience that has forever changed the way I teach, and view education.
Now, as a consultant, blending the art and science of teaching and learning is what keeps me fascinated and passionate about the field of education. This passion stems from the belief in peoples’ capacity to learn, adapt, change and grow. The soft skills - the “art” of teaching - things like attuning to another person, building relationships and trust, communicating with passion, energy and humor - I believe these make up the bedrock of our profession.
The “science” of teaching includes knowledge and skills about how the brain learns, and includes things such as presenting information in ways that will elicit authentic engagement, developing processing structures to increase critical thinking, and designing formative assessments that promote metacognitive students. These are different skills sets from the soft skills mentioned previously, and I believe teachers need a blend and balance of these in order to reach peak performance.
These guiding principles have held my focus and my heart throughout my career in education. As a classroom teacher, instructional coach, staff developer, principal, superintendent, university instructor and author, I have consistently found the connections among the fields of neuroscience, cognitive science and education to be the touchstones of my practice. These touchstones serve me well, as I work with various groups and individuals, to support learning, encourage innovation, and inspire confidence.
What are the touchstones of your practice?
What I believe:
We have a wealth of talent, ability, skills and genius sitting in the seats of every classroom in our nation. Students are hungry for relevance in their learning and our schools must create it by cultivating and respecting each thought, opinion and idea. Each student must know that they are capable of contributing great value to our world, and that we are here as educators to support their dreams, not to destroy them.
We also have a wealth of talent, ability, skills and genius standing at the front of each of these classrooms. Our teachers have a deep desire to work in schools where their thoughts and insight about what their students need are valued. They want to be much more than mere script readers - they want to engage, excite and enrich thinking by using their gifts to create strong relationships and meaningful learning.
Collaborative inquiry and action research provide venues for these talents to be enhanced and explored. In addition, collective efficacy develops to create optimal learning experiences for every child.
Our school leaders have struggled with following their true values while having to adhere to external mandates, measurement, ranking, and sanctions. Our leaders know that in order to create and sustain change we must build shared leadership and the capacity of every member of the school community to contribute to the decisions that lead to the true definition of student success. The Common Core State Standards are just a beginning to this shift in the definition of success. With this change student thinking and real world problem-solving become the focus, rather than memorizing facts and bits of seemingly irrelevant knowledge.
Throughout my 33 years of working with public schools, this belief has been my driving force. As a teacher, instructional coach, site administrator in middle school, elementary principal and a district-level director of professional development, English Learners and Curriculum, my decisions and actions were propelled by these core values. Now, as an educational consultant working with schools across the country, I find great joy in supporting other educators who believe as I believe, helping them to create compelling purposes for those who have lost it, putting systems and structures in place to build the shared leadership and collective responsibility crucial to attain it, and supporting instructional staffs in developing curriculum, approaches and team planning that create engaged student learning.
What is your school or district’s definition of student success? Is it more than a percentage on a standardized test? What drives you to come to work everyday? What is your compelling purpose?
About Our Work
Margaret and Mari’s work focuses on the unique and individual needs of every school and district in which they serve. Their customized support includes conducting comprehensive collaborative needs assessments; creating and employing long-term plans for student achievement; developing effective systems and structures to build collective responsibility and leadership; coaching teachers and administrators; building highly effective instructional leadership and teacher teams; and planning and presenting tailored professional development both online and face to face. These professionals measure their success by levels of sustained implementation of best practices and the resulting improvement of student learning. They have been invited to work with various organizations including The International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE), Leadership and Learning Center, and Associates for Learning and Leadership, with a focus on preparing schools for the Common Core State Standards and supporting school transformation. Their work spans from East Coast to West and from Washington State to the islands of Hawaii.
Why We are a Team
Sometimes we must take a leap of faith, take a risk with no idea of what the outcome might be because we are compelled by a strong belief or value. It was this common belief about the current landscape of education that merged our paths. After working collaboratively on several projects, it quickly became apparent that our separate gifts were magnified when joined to serve our core beliefs. Margaret’s strengths with supporting teachers in understanding how to take information from the world of neuroscience and apply it in the classroom, complements Mari’s strengths of building the capacity of teacher teams and leadership to create school-wide systems and actions that impact the learning of all. This collaboration has led to the creation of our innovative products, resources and highly successful professional development and coaching supports.