National Dissemination

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Annual Report 1996: Table of Contents | Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

The Institute continued during 1996 to disseminate its work by responding to inquiries, publishing its periodical, producing a new videotape program, and examining more systematic ways of working with schools and universities located in other cities.

Publication of On Common Ground

Requests for information about the operation of the Institute in New Haven were often the direct result of someone viewing the Institute s first videotape program, "Teaching On Common Ground," or reading about the Institute in its periodical, On Common Ground. During 1996 the Institute responded to numerous inquiries from individuals representing diverse organizations that included, by way of example, Rutgers University in New Jersey; Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania; Mayville State University in North Dakota; Rollins College in Florida; Morgantown Elementary School in West Virginia; Washington University in St. Louis; Rudolf Steiner College in California; and The City of South Charleston in West Virginia. In several cases, the person making the request indicated that he or she was exploring the establishment of a program similar to the Teachers Institute for their own community.

Requests for information were often the result of someone viewing the videotape or reading the periodical.
With support in part from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Institute published two numbers of the periodical during 1996. Number 6 (Spring 1996) on "Educational Organization and Change" included articles by Arthur Levine, President of Teachers College, Columbia University; Sherry H. Penney, Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Gene I. Maeroff, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; Sophie Sa, Executive Director of the Panasonic Foundation; and by various other school and college educators. It also contained tributes to Fred M. Hechinger, former Education Editor of The New York Times, and Ernest L. Boyer, who was President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, both long-time members of the Institute s National Advisory Committee. The Number inaugurated a new Superintendents and Principals Forum, which will complement the continuing forum, "Voices from the Classroom."

Number 7 (Fall 1996), devoted to topics in "Diversity, Partnership, and Community," included articles by Manuel N. Gomez, Vice Chancellor of Student Services at the University of California at Irvine; Howard R. Lamar, President Emeritus and Sterling Professor Emeritus of History at Yale University; Richard H. Brodhead, A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor of English and Dean of Yale College; James W. Pipkin, Dean of Fine Arts at the University of Houston; Ronald Takaki, Professor of Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, Berkeley; and by various other school and college educators. More specifically, Vice Chancellor Gomez argues that it "is al too tempting to lose faith in education right now," but concludes that "partnership is the means by which we can renew a national commitment to the health of American democracy" He adds, "Without educational partnerships between institutions, the intellectual development of our students will continue to atrophy."

In an article entitled "Encounter with a City," President Lamar tells how he explored, with his seminar community of school teachers, the history of that larger and continually changing urban community, New Haven. Dean Brodhead writes of his experience leading an Institute seminar and tells of the dialectical interaction between teachers in the university and those in the schools, through which both can broaden and enrich their own understanding of a possible educational community. Bryan J. Wolf, Professor of American Studies and English at Yale, tells how, through working in the Institute with school teachers, he discovered ways in which he might refocus his own university teaching so that it does ampler justice to the richness of racial and ethnic communities in America. "To teach a class with soul," he says, "is to tap into the diversity of everyday American expressive life, catching that life as it is transformed into art." Janet Ray Edwards, Program Officer in the Division of Research and Education at the National Endowment for the Humanities, deals with the impelling national need of building educational communities around issues of ethnic and cultural diversity. Edwards suggests how adaptable is the approach of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute to an array of different settings and thematic emphases. "Student Voices" in the Number includes a report by Reverend Frederick J. Streets, Chaplain and Pastor at Yale University, on his work as facilitator for a focus-group discussion with African-American high school students.
Edwards suggests how adaptable is the approach of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute to an array of difference settings and thematic emphases.
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The Editorial Board Meeting held February 1996 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. (Clockwise from bottom left: Thomas R. Whitaker, James R. Vivian, Thomas E. Persing, Edward C. Kisailus, Manuel N. Gomez, Charles S. Serns, Sharon Olguin, Sharon M. Floyd, Jules D. Prown and Jay L. Robinson.)
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The Editorial Board Meeting held February 1996 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. (Left to right: Manuel N. Gomez, Sharon M. Floyd, Jules D. Prown, Jay L. Robinson, and Edward C. Kisailus.)
To assist with the periodical, the Editorial Board for On Common Ground met twice during the year. The Board s role is very much in keeping with the original conception of the periodical: that is, that On Common Ground not be merely descriptive or promotional of particular collaborative programs but that, instead, it provide a forum for more thoughtful, provocative, and analytical writing about this educational field. The Board has been of invaluable assistance not only in conceiving of the nature of the publication, but also in formulating topics and approaching individuals to write articles for each number the Institute publishes.

Meeting in Santa Fe for two days in February 1996, the Editorial Board addressed the contents, illustration, appearance, and circulation of the periodical. Each topic was approached from the perspective of the varied constituencies among its readership. A particular focus of the meeting was school administrators' views on school-university partnership and on the relation of partnerships to school organization and change. Board members Thomas Persing and Charles Serns made informal presentations and then led discussion on this topic. Excerpts from the discussion were printed in Number 6 as the "Principals' and Superintendents' Forum," mentioned above, introducing this as a regular element of the periodical.

The Board discussed articles submitted and possible images for Numbers 6 and 7, criteria for images used in the periodical, and possible publication in book form of articles first published in On Common Ground, and later revised and expanded for this purpose. The Board also decided that we should urge individuals who receive the periodical to give their copy to libraries.

The Editorial Board addressed the contents, illustration, appearance, and circulation of the periodical.
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The Editorial Board Meeting held November 1996 in New Haven. (Left to right: Manuel N. Gomez, Sharon M. Floyd, and Jay L. Robinson.)
Meeting in New Haven on November 8-9, 1996, the Board discussed responses to Number 6 and Number 7, both published since the February meeting of the Editorial Board; the current circulation of the periodical; requests received for quantity orders for meetings and other purposes; their reflections on the seven numbers published to date; articles received, but not yet published, and images collected but not previously used. The Board then focused on feature topics and possible articles and authors for future numbers, as well as suggestions for the several departments that were included in Numbers 1 through 7: "Voices from the Classroom," "Superintendents' and Principals' Forum," "Student Voices," "Responses" to articles published in On Common Ground, Book Reviews, and "From the New Haven Experience." Finally they reviewed comprehensively the list of authors who have ever been approached to write for the periodical, with particular attention paid to those who have not yet submitted a piece for publication.

During 1996, the circulation of the periodical was expanded to more than 12,000 individuals nationwide and included the following, in addition to numerous teachers and administrators at Yale University and in the New Haven Public Schools: the Chief State School Officers; superintendents of school districts enrolling 5,000 or more students; all college and university presidents and chancellors and chief academic officers; deans and directors of education, continuing education, and graduate programs at four-year institutions; directors of community services and governmental relations at four-year institutions; heads of many corporations, foundations, and professional organizations involved in education reform; education policy-makers at both the federal and state levels; members of the print and broadcast media who cover education; and a growing list of individuals who have asked to receive it. The periodical was mailed also to individuals in schools and colleges across the country with whom the Institute has worked since the inception of its dissemination activities in the early 1980s.

In addition, a copy of the periodical was included in the registration folder of all individuals attending the "National Conference on School-College Collaboration of the American Association for Higher Education," held in Washington, D.C. in November; and the "National Conference on Educational Collaboration and Excellence" held at the University of California at Berkeley in October. Number 6 was provided in quantity, for example, to the National Gallery of Art for use in their summer program for school teachers; to the Washoe County School District in Nevada for distribution among their curriculum coordinators; to St. Mary College in Kansas for an advisory council meeting; to the San Diego County office of Education for a collaborative meeting with area chancellors and superintendents; to the University of California, Davis for their "Leadership Institute for School Superintendents"; to the Lincoln Public Schools in Nebraska for a meeting of the Executive Board of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA); to the Southern Crescent Professional Education Council for the six school systems located in the south metropolitan Atlanta area; and to Mayville State University in North Dakota for a meeting involving campus faculty and staff, superintendents, and elementary and secondary teachers at MaSU and Valley City State University.
The periodical was mailed to individuals in schools and colleges across the country with whom the Institute had worked.

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Videotape Program

When in October 1995 the Carnegie Corporation of New York renewed its support for the periodical, the grant also provided for the production of a second videotape program on the process of school teachers participation in the Institute. A first, short videotape program, "Teaching on Common Ground," was completed during 1995. It is based on numerous hours of interviews with Institute participants from the University and the Schools, the Superintendent, principals, and others; and on videotaping of teachers and students during the 1994 summer Academy and the previous school year. This video was previewed by several audiences, including school teachers on the Institute Steering Committee, Yale faculty members on the University Advisory Council, and members of the Special Gifts Commitee, among others. The response was generally favorable and encouraged us to believe that additional videotape productions would be worthwhile. Many individuals who viewed the first program suggested, in fact, that the Institute needs a companion video that explains the structure and process of the Institute in more detail. Their concern has been that viewers of the short program not conclude that the highly positive results of Institute participation as depicted in "Teaching on Common Ground" can be too readily achieved, but rather that they are the product of an in-depth and long-term engagement among University faculty members and public school teachers through a structured process of seminars and curriculum writing. The viewers suggested that the next production therefore should be more according to a script, and less in a documentary style. The first production was approached as a documentary in order not to appear unduly promotional, but instead to relate in a seemingly authentic manner the views of participants.
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The first video was distributed in the fall of 1995 to all the Institute's school Representatives and Contacts in New Haven, and they showed it throughout their schools in special meetings, regular faculty meetings, magnet school meetings, and at other events. They used the video to heighten the visibility of the Institute in their schools and to encourage teachers and administrators to view the Institute as being designed to meet their needs. The video was employed specifically--and with apparently good result--to call attention to seminar plans for 1996 and to on-line and printed resources already available from the Institute. In fact, as mentioned above, the Representatives attributed the unusually large number of applicants to 1996 seminars in part to the impact of the video.

The next production, with a script written by Thomas R. Whitaker, will describe the structure and process of the Institute while it follows a few individual teachers through that entire process. The Institute is fortunate that Whitaker agreed to write the script as he has led more Institute seminars than any other Yale faculty member. We selected seven teachers who were willing to devote the necessary time to the project, and they were interviewed initially during the month preceding their participation in an Institute seminar. The video will follow them from the initial stages of organizing the Institute as they suggested the seminars they would like the Institute to offer, through their own application and formulation of a provisional unit topic, through participation in a seminar and writing a curriculum unit, into their own school and the actual teaching of the unit developed through the seminar. In this way, the video will show the Institute from the perspective of teachers participating in it.

The next production will describe the structure and process of the Institute while it follows a few individual teachers trouhg that entire process.
The second video will be designed to supplement the first, but it will be coherent and complete enough to stand alone. Ideally, it will be about 27 minutes in length. It will address teachers and administrators in both schools and universities, in New Haven and in other cities, as well as members of foundations and other funding organizations, and, more generally, all those who are interested in the future of public education in the United States. Video #2 will provide exposition and narrative that will make clear:
  • The history of the Institute, including its longevity and present funding
  • The organization of the Institute, including the roles of the director, the Steering Committee, the Representatives in the schools, the University Advisory Council and Executive Committee, and the National Advisory Committee
  • The process by which seminars are determined each year, including conversations among teachers and between the director and University faculty
  • The uses of the talks directed to all Fellows of the Institute
  • The seminar process, as it combines common reading with the writing of individual curriculum units
  • The process through which curriculum units are planned, drafted, tested in the classroom, and completed
  • The uses and results of the curriculum units in the New Haven schools, with a sampling of student responses
  • The benefits that school teachers, Yale faculty members, and Yale as an institution receive from the Institute
  • The role the Institute has played and continues to play in Yale s interaction with New Haven
  • The importance of the Institute s approach for strengthening teaching and learning in schools in other cities
We believe that this video will be meaningful for various audiences, but especially for New Haven teachers who have never participated in the Institute and individuals at other institutions who are exploring the establishment of similar programs.

We believe this video will be meaningful for New Haven teachers who have never participated and individuals at other institutions who are exploring the establishment of similar programs.

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