How can a little, independent school amidst fields and woods have anything to say to developing teachers whose classrooms will one day be found in large buildings in the middle of a city? While the externalities may appear to separate the two contexts, the essence of schooling is based not on such surface elements but on the practices that can be learned in such a setting as Arbor's.
In a recent conversation with former Arbor Center for Teaching (ACT) apprentice, Ren Johns, who was aiming for and found a mathematics teaching position at a large urban high school after earning her MAT through ACT, we discussed what it is that she believes she brings to her students that is making the difference in her teaching. She attributes her successes with her current students, who might appear to be very different from those she taught at Arbor, to the lessons she learned through ACT, to the relentless commitment to students she saw modeled and now exhibits herself, both in the development of meaningful relationships with them and in her provisioning them with work at which they can be successful. Ren commented further that she finds herself at the same school as another ACT graduate, Ben Malbin, whose successes in teaching American Sign Language to a wide range of students are likewise predicated on connecting with students authentically as human beings and as capable learners.
Both of these teachers are "warm demanders," intent on working with their students students from a perspective of high expectations and empathic understanding. Becoming committed to such understanding and developing the pedagogical imagination required to do this kind of work can be learned in any school committed to individual growth and development within a community of learners being asked to be their best selves. Arbor is such a school.