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“Something right is happening at that school”.
“They are such a wonderful group.”
We had a field trip today – something that has been all-too-rare with the pandemic. Three people and three comments about our students; two of them calling in to the school after hours to say these things about our students.
Our students are impressive. It is factual and will be seen by anyone who has the opportunity to visit or, better yet, be a guest student for a few days. I won’t dive in to that. I think the more important question is how did we get to this place? What is the ‘magic sauce’ to create an environment like ours? I believe the answers are surprising.
1) A focus on schools for learning
As I pointed out in my last post, too many schools try to be that ‘everything’ without focusing on the fact that schools are for learning. Children must learn that 2+2 = 4, and that a period must follow a sentence. Unfortunately this is lost in the vast majority of schools in “programming” targeted towards what “excellent” schools do while missing that all excellent schools are built from a foundation of learning, not ‘character development’, ‘inquiry based learning’, ‘STEAM’, or whatever the in-vogue sales pitch of the moment is.
2) The one room schoolhouse
The one room schoolhouse is an idea that was given up for the sake of ‘efficiency’ and ‘economics’. It is (just ask our teachers) extraordinarily difficult to teach students at different stages of development. It is far easier to ‘standardize’ a curriculum and delivery method – and thus much easier to staff with less qualified/talented people to do it. Unfortunately, what comes out of standardization is exactly what might be expected – a standard young adult. Innovation, creativity, and individuality are all lost in this ridiculous notion that children of the same age should be taught the same way.
3) Small class sizes
Children deserve to be known, and it is only by being known that they effectively learn. It is simply impossible to teach 20 children (or more). I’ve tried and I’ve failed (yet won national teaching awards and been part of international research teams and celebrated while failing!). Class sizes must be held to 10 or less to be effective – and you will not find that anywhere but here as the economics are, quite simply, too challenging.
4) An incredible parent community
We didn’t ‘create’ this community, it came to us. Yet a post about our incredible students would be commpletely erroneous if it didn’t mention our parents. We are an incredible team and this community knows and subscribes fully to the concept that it takes a village to raise a child.
This is what we do at Headwaters that allows us to bring children to this community who make a difference in the lives of the adults they touch.
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