Hello! My name is Stephanie Given and this is my 12th year with Fullerton School District. I have had the privilege of teaching at Title 1 Schools for many years before transferring to Acacia to teach 3rd and 4th grade GATE. Learning and teaching have been passions of mine from a young age – my mother said I often skipped my naps to play school with my dolls and stuffed animals as a toddler.
At the end of the 2014 school year, Acacia partnered with the Cotsen Foundation with the goal of providing already great teachers with financial and human resources to improve their craft as educators. Mr. Cotsen, former CEO of Neutrogena, had a few elementary school teachers leave a strong impact on his life. He calls them the “real magicians.” After selling his company, Mr. Cotsen started the Foundation to provide these magicians with sustainable resources to become excellent and artful educators.
Our first round of Cotsen consisted of a 2-year cohort with six Acacia teachers (called Fellows) focusing in the areas of studying research based reading and math practices. This led to implementation of Reading Workshop, Jr. Great Books, and Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) for math. Through a weekly coaching cycle, the Fellows tested out theories, analyzed data, reflected, and planned next best steps based on current and observable student trends. We studied the effects of their teaching on student learning. Because of the nature of the coaching cycle and my non-evaluative role with each teacher, Fellows took risks by trying out new methods of instruction, pushed themselves to levels they hadn’t yet imagined and watched their students grow in their knowledge of themselves and the world around them. Additionally, we have seen an increase in student engagement due to rigor and structure, a deeper understanding of the learning process, and a greater confidence in themselves as readers, writers, and mathematicians.
Come the 2016-17 school year, we had the great honor to participate in a 2nd round of the Cotsen Fellowship with 7 new Fellows. We are currently in our second year of this cohort. This rare opportunity allows us to build a long-standing partnership between Acacia and the Cotsen Foundation, serving as a Lab site for future trainings and receiving grant opportunities to continue to improve our craft school-wide. We currently have at least one current or alumni Fellow in each grade, which allows for fantastic collaboration!
My time is spent both on and off campus, in Fellows’ classes, at trainings with Fellows, researching, and attending my own professional development as a mentor/coach. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some resources that support our current work: