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“Syfr has created a refreshing and extraordinary opportunity to provide a 21st Century learner-focused professional experience for teachers and administrators. The expertise and depth of knowledge that Christine and Dick offer facilitates the learning of teachers who are striving to meet the needs of a new generation of digital and media-saturated learners. Their work has been a re-birth for the professional practice of our teachers. They are pioneers in professional development who are establishing a new precedent for 21st Century teaching and learning."

—Betty Burks, former Deputy Superintendent, Curriculum and Instruction and Special Campus Programs,
San Antonio ISD, Texas


Concerned about College and Career Readiness?
Worrying about the Common Core?
Implementing Project Based Learning?
Effective teachers do it ALL!
Syfr's Professional Development inspires more effective teaching.
Read it about it in "How Can Teachers Be Most Effective?"

Download it HERE


Preparing students for college and careers, getting ready for new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and assessments, TEKS, and implementing rigorous teacher evaluation when test scores are already flat, all challenge us to think carefully about professional learning for staff. When we look closely at schools that have been successful for several years, they all tell us the same story of how to do it. Their success lies in how they use classroom time, how the teachers think about curriculum, how to teach fewer standards, but more deeply. Teaching knowledge and skills has to be balanced with an emphasis on thinking critically and problem solving in application.

Most successful schools also have some form of a professional learning community, but not all schools with PLCs are high performing. The success of a PLC is built on relationships, and relationships is one of four units of study in Syfr’s professional learning series: The Art of Learning.

Finally, Syfr’s professional development uses data to inform practice and to analyze assessments for learning to restructure instruction and abandon ineffective practices to create student success while increasing rigor to align with the CCSS.

The Art of LearningSuccessful strategies are the core of the learning in Syfr’s Professional development based on our book, The Art of Learning. Learn the science and apply the practice when you Learn, Adapt, and Act with Syfr. Integrate Response to Intervention (RTI) as we reframe instruction across all subjects and grades with intentional practice that works, with evidence based artifacts in every classroom. By using differentiated instruction in our Institutes, we can provide a wide variety of experiences for a large, diverse group of participants.

Our professional development curriculum is divided into four instructional units: Perspective, Cognition, Relationships, and Motivation. Although the research base for the units as a whole comes from a diverse background of educational and cognitive psychologists (referenced in the complete bibliography in The Art of Learning), the most thoughtful evidence substantiating the program’s design is described in the National Academies of Science, Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century, and also the document Pathways to Prosperity Project, published by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, February 2011. Finally, our neuroscience work is informed by the Board of Behavioral, Sensory and Cognitive Sciences: How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition (2000).

Each unit of study in the series has a written set of goals and associated performance assessments, as well as discrete lessons that use multiple media for delivery. Each lesson has its own set of objectives, is designed with an engaging hook (or anticipatory set) to create relevance for the adult learner, and short segments of direct instruction often incorporating models. This is followed by a short discussion to check for understanding (a formative assessment) leading into a structured activity. Finally, the lesson returns to use models to close the concept and requests an independent application of what has been learned as a culminating (summative) assessment. School districts can choose single or multiple units, depending on their own goals for professional development for staff or administrators.

The work is appropriate across grades and subjects, and works equally well for instructional leaders, teachers, or coaches. It includes face-to-face Institutes and online instruction and discussion.

Our work with you ends when we have trained your own staff to carry on The Art of Learning in your schools. A typical relationship with a district lasts three years: one year of volunteer teachers and/or principals (Apprentice SyfrScholars); the second year, a group that includes the year one teachers (Now Journeymen) and a group of their recruits; and finally, Master Scholars who are training their colleagues and peers across the district.