© Riverside Education Foundation 2016. All Rights Reserved.
Typically, a 'buddy' is considered to be a friend who knows us well, accepts us as we are and is fun to hang out with. A buddy is also someone we like to do things, explore and pair up with. Through this relationship, we learn about each other, about ourselves and about life. Buddy interactions create real life/family like scenarios of interaction between children of different age groups, similar to siblings but without the rivalry.
Starting the day with Conglom builds a sense of belonging that continues through the day. By prioritizing this community time for the first session of the morning, students recognize that building relationships is an important component of their time at school. This is also an opportunity for teachers to get to know each student better. The boundaries between real life and school life start blurring as students share their experiences from outside school in the classroom. Students do not have to compartmentalize their lives.
Individuals have different memories and feelings of the same experience depending on their inclination, prior experience, and mindsets. Similarly, in schools, students perceive the same experiences in different ways. Reflection makes it possible for students to strengthen details of their individual journey by thoughtfully considering recent experiences and connecting them to earlier ones. In addition, they can evaluate their progress and identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement. Identifying emerging patterns can help students break negative patterns and enhance positive ones. It provides a good springboard to discuss strategies and tackle discrepancies. Ultimately, this helps students to maximize their own learning.
Individuals retain different memories of the same experience depending on their inclination, prior experience, and mindsets. Similarly, in schools, students experience the same unit of learning in different ways. Revisiting makes it possible for them to become familiar with and strengthen the details of their individual journey while aligning themselves to the big ideas and concepts.
Students need skills that are applicable in different real life situations, so that when they encounter a conflict, dilemma or problem, they are capable of strategizing their thinking to find a solution. The explicit understanding of thinking empowers students with the confidence to deal with problems independently.
Students are assessed and evaluated throughout the learning process rather than just at the end of the month / term / year with an examination. It is done in different working contexts so different aspects of students' skills and understanding is revealed. As students are actively involved in the process, they have opportunities to revisit, review and recall the process. Teachers have an opportunity to evaluate student growth (both individual as well as the collective achievement of a grade). The evaluation process is designed to be personalized and specific to individual students, rather than a one-size fits all approach.
High quality teacher development is the key to facilitating student learning. A teacher who understands how children think and learn acquires the skill of designing instruction that offers the best opportunity for each child to grasp concepts. Students experience individualized instruction, which enables each one to realize her potential. This can only be achieved through a continuous study of research in pedagogy, learning theories and their implementation in the classroom.
Regular dialogue between teachers and parents about daily learning and experiences allows parents to get a closer view of the classroom and their child's life in it. They are able to witness their child's growth in all domains (cognitive, physical, social and emotional). When their children's learning and progress becomes visible and accessible, parents gain a more qualitative understanding of the learning as opposed to a quantitative numeral or grade. That understanding helps parents support their children better during the school years. The focus shifts to nurturing the child's wellbeing, celebrating learning and viewing him/her as a more holistic individual.
Through Peer and Public Scrutiny, students imbibe the idea that for almost everything in real life, teams of people make things happen. In addition, they realize that the public - the audience or user - is the ultimate judge of the strength of an idea or product. Through this process, students begin to understand how 'life' works and see a reason for thinking from the point of view of the end user/audience.
Authentic experiences establish the relevance of what the child is learning. They make connections from the classroom to the real world. Real life situations allow for boundaries to be blurred between disciplines and domains. Students get to see the application of skills from each domain used seamlessly. The transfer of learning from one domain to the other is enabled without seeming contrived. Since there is a wide range of skills and concepts to be applied, it allows for differentiated instruction, where a child can choose an area of her strength, interest and readiness.
Agenda Setting and Closing the Loop are daily routines. Collaboratively, teachers and students determine the events of the day and set the tone and pace of work. Agenda setting also happens at the beginning of sessions, when objectives of a lesson are made transparent. Closing the loop, provides an opportunity to determine what has been accomplished, either at the end of the session or at the end of the day.
Assemblies provide a platform for students to showcase their strengths and talents, move outside their comfort zone and extend themselves to face an audience. This builds confidence. When the main events of the week are shared across classes and student achievements are celebrated, students build a sense of identity and belonging within a community. When peers and seniors in the community applaud a student effort and achievement, it builds self esteem and pride in the individual.
In our lives, both professional and personal, feedback is very important for our growth. However, more beneficial than feedback from others is our knowledge of our self. Self assessment and metacognitive skills are important for individual growth. Therefore, it is essential to introduce these skills early so that children take naturally to being self directed, honest and balanced about their own progress.
We understand better that which is visible, tangible, and experienced. The complex world of learning becomes simpler for the layperson - the parent - through the process of making learning visible. When their children's learning and progress becomes visible and accessible (through sample work), parents gain a more qualitative understanding of the learning as opposed to a quantitative numeral or grade. That understanding helps parents support their children better during the school years. They begin to see the child as a more holistic individual with special strengths and a few areas that require reinforcement.