"Underlying all the educational endeavors at The Children's School is the value placed on the individual child and on self-esteem as the foundation for all learning. The philosophy of The Children's School has some of its roots in the work of Maria Montessori, Jean Piaget, John Dewey and the School's founder, Margaret Skutch.
In order to achieve our mission, the identification of five key elements in the classroom is essential: CLASSROOM LANGUAGE, an INDIVIDUALIZED PROGRAM, ROLES OF TEACHERS, A CAREFULLY PREPARED ENVIRONMENT & STAFF COACHING. Through all of these techniques used to provide an optimal learning environment for young children runs a the common thread of respect.
How the staff communicates with children reflects and reinforces the philosophy and objectives of The Children's School. The use of descriptive language and nonverbal communication helps children learn while simultaneously enhancing their self-worth. Classroom language models respect and the techniques used by the teachers provide consistent, positive feedback for all of the children.
The individualized program of instruction at The Children¹s School takes a developmental approach. Each day, teachers invite each child to a planned, individualized lesson using content-rich materials designed to teach individual concepts. They are carefully chosen for each child based on his or her development, rather than chronological age. Curriculum areas include language arts, math, sensorial, computer, practical life, art, science and social studies.
At The Children's School teachers are part of an interdependent team on which the daily operation of the School relies. All teachers enter both the morning and afternoon sessions ready to perform a particular function which rotates daily. These roles allow for true team teaching without hierarchy, and ensure that the focus of each day is clearly on the children.
The physical environment at The Children¹s School is used to excite children about learning and expose them to rich learning materials. The Children¹s School¹s physical site was designed in 1967 specifically as a learning space for young children. Large, broad windows on a ll sides of the building extend from the floor to the ceiling. A skylight above the central core allows natural light from above into the classroom. At the east end of the building is the "forum", an 8 ft. by 12 ft. sunken area for gathering. Behind the forum is a flanking one-way glass wall, a mirror that separates the primary class from the larger classroom. The classroom is divided into different curriculum areas by movable shelves, and the teachers are responsible for preparing these different areas daily.
Coaching is the cornerstone of the structure of The Children's School. It is incorporated into each day to ensure the continuous development of the staff. Coaching has evolved over the years from an original model based on the work of George Prince. ! At the heart of Prince's philosophy is the model he developed for giving and receiving information or feedback in the form of "three pluses and a wish". The pluses, positive, objective observations, help pave the way for the wish or critique to be heard. Teachers observe each others¹ work on a daily basis and share their observations through:
VIDEO COACHING: The entire staff watches a segment of a teacher and, along with the coach, describe the aspects of the lesson that they enjoy, pausing the tape to show the examples. The coach then contributes the wish to the teacher being coached.
PAD & PENCIL COACHING: A teacher observes a teaching moment and records the three pluses and a wish to use in the coaching session. This is transferred into a type of hieroglyphics and shared verbally w ¢ith the entire staff. The hieroglyphics help to distinguish the uniqueness of the pluses and wish, without the chance of teachers reading ahead and missing the power of the spoken word to convey the thoughts.
DAYBOOK COACHING: Teachers also coach one another using the staff communication log, or daybook. In this method of coaching, the pluses and wish are written in the daybook for the entire staff to read.
Excerpted from the preschool's website