Knowing Our Why // Practice and Program Review

Back to School Night is approaching quickly, and I hope you are looking forward to it. In preparation, I wanted to provide some information and context about the process through which our wonderful faculty have developed the programs they will share with you on Thursday and next Tuesday. 
Berkwood Hedge School is intentional about why we teach, what we teach, and how we teach in order to provide a foundation for learning that will best serve our students. Through a collaborative process of practice and program review, we identify strengths and areas for growth. The process is a powerful and invaluable tool for assessing how we meet the changing needs of our children. 
Three years ago, we decided as part of the new Strategic Plan to fully embrace Thematic Project Based Learning as the core vehicle for content delivery and differentiation. In 2018-2019, we spent ten weeks studying our program in depth and assessing our progress toward the goals outlined in the Strategic Plan, focusing primarily on Project Based Learning. As a team we examined each subject area and the content strands within it to assess:
  • Our understanding of grade-level objectives and their context within each grade--Are students meeting the objectives for their grade?
  • How we scaffold and align content between grades--Do children leave each grade prepared for new expectations the following year?
  • How each subject, particularly core areas like math, reading, and writing, fits into a grade’s entire program within the context of Project Based Learning--How are subjects integrated into projects where appropriate, and how are they practiced when the project focuses on other areas?
For example, our review revealed that while we cover phonics well in the classroom, a different K-2 word study and phonics program would align better with our literacy program and provide consistency and coherence within and across the grades. 
Based on the belief that we can always be better, and that when we assess our work, we discover our strengths and consistently identify areas for growth, the teachers had the courage to evaluate their practice and to set goals for themselves and their programs. The result was a complex, comprehensive content map for each grade that integrates specialist classes, core subjects, and compelling projects.
Through our program review process, we develop the habit of evaluating our work and create opportunities for collaboration. Tools such as weekly inquiry groups where teachers meet for ongoing review ensure the relevance and excellence of our program and practice.
You will hear more at Back to School Night. I hope you take the opportunity to ask questions and learn all you can about your child’s program.
In partnership,
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