The Importance of Ends and Beginnings in Teaching

A number of thoughts coalesced as I listened to dean of faculty Peter Valine make a presentation to Williston’s teachers following the long winter holiday. His focus on classroom instruction and its “ends and beginnings” was especially timely as this was our first year in our return to a trimester calendar. (As an aside, our change to trimesters has realized one of our principle goals which was to bolster the the number and scope of elective courses, including the new Williston Scholar classes.) 

How students synthesize and apply the concepts and skills they learn in the classroom depends on the teacher’s ability to facilitate the connections between one class and the next, one problem and the next, one idea and the next. In short, the intentional design of the beginnings and endings of classes really matters. And how teachers connect with students to understand their prior understandings and the many different learning styles arrayed before them is crucial to determining the effectiveness of learning our students experience over time. 

The work of Mr. Valine’s Teaching Excellence task force last year established a fresh set of goals toward which we continue to strive. The ongoing work we do as a faculty about the craft of teaching ensures that Williston’s teachers remain on the front end of these important professional conversations.

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