Unified Teaching Values

closeup hand bowing cello

Since 1983, Community Music School of Springfield has been a place to access equitable and inclusive music education that empowers individuals, inspires creative passion, and promotes well-being in our greater community. The connections that our students have with their CMSS faculty harness the beauty and potential of the special relationship between a musical mentor and their student.  At the core of CMSS teachers, and what makes CMSS such a special place, has always been an unspoken culture that uplifts and centers these connections between student, family, and faculty.

We are happy to announce that in 2021, in collaboration with Lorna Jane Norris Consulting, CMSS faculty, families, and alumni launched the Effective Teaching Initiative to identify the common values that exist within CMSS teaching artistry. What came to fruition, after nearly a year of collaboration, was the Unified Teaching Values which are an embodiment of the values that unify the CMSS community of educators and performers.  

A lesson with each and every one of CMSS faculty looks different in its own beautiful way. The CMSS Unified Teaching Values allow us to name what it means to be a faculty member, what future students can expect from all CMSS faculty, and what past and present students have loved since 1983.

Action Steps and Outcomes

In the process of determining “what to do” with this living document of values, faculty identified the following outcomes:

  1. Hang them up in our studios and around the school
  2. Embed them into our interview process and job descriptions
  3. Share with our community so they know what to expect from CMSS faculty
  4. Use these as guiding pillars for faculty growth

As a “living document” these values will be reviewed by faculty in upcoming years and adjusted as we, as a school, adjust to meet the needs of our community.

The Effective Teaching Initiative Timeline

Spring 2021To start, CMSS faculty, students, adult students, alumni, and CMSS parents & caregivers answered this prompt: 

“You recently observed a colleague teach an in-person private lesson. After the lesson you said to yourself, ‘Wow… they are a really effective teacher.’ Name 5-8 elements you observed/experienced.”

Lorna Jane Norris Consulting (LJN) collated and sorted the 86 collected statements into 8 categories:

  • Relationship 
  • Communication 
  • Approach 
  • Lesson content 
  • Developmental 
  • Student-led learning 
  • Feedback
  • Developing the whole student 
Fall 2021After thoughtful discussion with CMSS faculty, LJN sorted and collated the 86 statements down to 22 statements
Spring 2022Faculty Focus group distilled the 22 statements into a useable format for their vision of building culture, faculty hiring, establishing and identifying what makes CMSS’s teaching community unique
Summer 2022Distilled 22 statements into Unified Teaching Values
Fall 2022Unified Teaching Values approved by Faculty Focus Group and shared with all CMSS faculty members
Winter 2023Unified Teaching Values shared with CMSS families and friends online and in our school!


CMSS Perform-A-Thon