Highly Selective

matt chessResearch: There’s currently a nationwide teacher shortage, as the number of college students who choose to become teachers drops and teachers already in the field leave the career. Schools are scrambling to hire the teachers they need and stretching the qualifications necessary to make it happen.

Practice: Our process for hiring new teachers is highly selective, going well beyond credentials to ensure that candidates are in line philosophically in how they think about children, learning, and the school community. Once they’re hired they go through teacher training and are assigned a mentor teacher to learn our culture and practices. Being at Chrysalis is a continual process of learning and discovery for everyone who works and studies here. We’ve made a few outstanding hires this summer who we’re really excited about…we can’t wait for you to meet them!

Thinking Differently

Thinking DifferentlyResearch: David Flink, an advocate for children with learning challenges, recently posted an article and video based on his book, “Learning Differently.” He argues, “…we must accept that one in five children think differently. It is absurd to admonish children with learning disabilities to ‘simply try harder,’ and detrimental and debilitating to cheerlead them along, without acknowledging that in our current school structure they begin at a deficit.” By approaching learning differences from a deficit perspective, we undermine a child’s potential. The most important thing we can do for them is understand their challenges, teach them the tools and introduce the accommodations to allow them to be successful, and encourage them to advocate for their own needs.

Practice: Flink refers to a need for adults to be “learning detectives” to best serve a child’s needs. In our admissions process we ask our students a lot of questions, probing to get a sense of how they learn best so we can match them with the right teachers. Then the work is transferred to our teachers, who are true learning detectives. They help our students identify what works best, implement any accommodations they need to be successful, and develop tools that they can use for the rest of their lives.

Strong Relationships Equals Strong Schools

20140911_094750Research: The Seattle Times sponsored an Education Lab over the last year to look at what works in schools to boost student achievement. They presented their findings in Sunday’s paper. The themes they found included strong relationships with caring adults, teacher buy-in about the school’s philosophy, and flexibility to attend to students’ needs. They conclude, “squeezing 1 million Washington kids through a single curriculum or instructional style is a strategy guaranteed to fail. The most dynamic [schools] trust educators to adapt to the specific needs of the pupils sitting before them.”

Practice: Our teachers are incredible professionals. We trust them to make the right call with their students and allow them the flexibility with their curricula and methods to change gears at any time to respond to student needs, even within the course of a single session. Not only are they highly skilled in the art of teaching, but they also provide mentorship and guidance for their students to help build upon their strengths and character.

Book Review: Your Child’s Strengths, Jenifer Fox

By Karen Fogle

Book: Your Child’s Strengths

Big Idea:

You make your greatest progress in an area of strength, not an area of weakness.

Notes:

One idea we can’t seem to get out of our heads is that school and education is about pointing out errors and spending time working on improving our weaknesses. There is extensive research supporting the concept that we will be happier and have a higher level of performance if we focus on developing our natural abilities and strengths. It doesn’t mean weaknesses aren’t addressed. It just means that weaknesses need to be put in the background and minimized. This book goes into great detail about how you can help your child discover their areas of strength as well as the activities and relationships that strengthen them. It details how you can help your child identify their strengths and achieve their greatest potential.

Quote:

“The setting most responsible for the proliferation of the term learning disability is the traditional school. If all public and private schools are working off the same model of teaching and learning the student will be disabled in every school that uses that model. Therefore, schools must be willing to depart from the traditional methods used to teach and assess performance. Better schools will create programs that meet students where they are and take them where they have faith they can go.” (Fox)

For more research on this topic and an adult survey to help you discover your strengths, see Marcus Buckingham’s book Now, Discover Your Strengths