Our students enjoy a high level of accomplishment in part due to our commitment to fostering a learning culture that makes it “safe to be smart.” Our students are encouraged to ask questions, to speak up in a group, to voice opinions, to ask for help, to assume leadership, to make independent decisions and to solve problems with peers. As other schools seek methods to achieve educational excellence, more and more are turning to the well-researched practices that we actively incorporate into our learning environments. These practices include maintaining a positive and safe learning culture, implementing a constructivist teaching approach, utilizing brain-based learning techniques, and initiating student-centered learning groups.
Teachers are the main authority figure in this model. Students are viewed as “empty vessels” whose primary role is to passively receive information (via lectures and direct instruction) with an end goal of testing and assessment. It is the primary role of teachers to pass knowledge and information onto their students. In this model, teaching and assessment are viewed as two separate entities. Student learning is measured through objectively scored tests and assessments.
While teachers are an authority figure in this model, teachers and students play an equally active role in the learning process. The teacher’s primary role is to coach and facilitate student learning and overall comprehension of material. Student learning is measured through both formal and informal forms of assessment, including group projects, student portfolios, and class participation. Teaching and assessment are connected; student learning is continuously measured during teacher instruction.