We hear a lot about different types of schools, math programs, reading programs, and so on. All of this information can feel overwhelming. Parents feel a lot of pressure to make the “right” decisions. What I’ve come to learn is that there isn’t one right decision. There are lots of great schools, great programs, great teachers, and great supports. Each one has its pros and cons and has to be chosen in balance with your family’s values, the individual child’s needs, and real-life constraints. At the end of the day, what we all want is for each student to achieve success. But what is success? What does it look like? Sound like? Is it the same for everyone? Is there only one route from Point A to Point B? No way.
My students have ranged from preschool through graduate school learners and have attended public, private, parochial, traditional, progressive, urban, suburban, and rural schools and educational institutions. I’ve seen both fabulous and less than fabulous teaching in every situation. What always holds true is that instruction designed with the individual learners in mind is the most successful. The best instruction communicates clear expectations, focuses students’ attention on WHY this learning matters, and builds strategically from one grade to the next with a clear scope and sequence. This instruction focuses on essential questions, the BIG IDEAS, and is developed through Backward Design, a curriculum design model that begins with the end in mind. Good instruction also emphasizes social skills, communication, citizenship, and interdependence.
From my perspective as an educator, my most successful students demonstrate:
- Intrinsic motivation and ownership for learning
- Divergent thinking
- Critical thinking
- Analytical reasoning
- Skillful communicating
- Reflective learning
- Curiosity across disciplines
- Responsible citizenship in a global world
- Care and respect for others
At My Learning Springboard, we want our students to demonstrate these behaviors. To that end, we look forward to aligning our instruction with the Common Core State Standards. These standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn. They are designed to meet the skills necessary to be successful in college and careers. But these standards are only a guideline, and they’re relatively new. Public schools are quickly adapting their curriculum to align with these standards. In fact, 44 states have already adopted these standards and are working toward implementation, including New York, Maryland, Florida, and the District of Columbia. Independent schools, however, have much more freedom. Regardless of the school program, these standards establish a benchmark for where students at different grade levels should be performing, and our tutors understand the big picture for where students need to go.
Because we work with students from a range of school programs, My Learning Springboard tutors are able to skillfully adapt, differentiate, accelerate, and remediate to meet the needs of each student with a clear understanding of what is developmentally appropriate. We emphasize process, conceptual understanding, persistence, patience, and reflection while building specific skills and making meaningful connections across the curriculum and to the real world. Our students recognize the importance of their work, their effort, and their contributions. They understand that they have to take responsibility for their learning and that our tutors are there to facilitate, encourage, and model successful strategies.By Brad Hoffman, M.S.Ed.
Board Certified Educational Planner and Learning Specialist
My Learning Springboard, Inc.