Last week, I laid the foundation for how and why we arrived at our logo’s tagline - Building Great Futures. As we are now in our second full week of October and celebrating Dyslexia, ADHD, and Learning Differences Awareness Month, I want to talk about a few methods within our Lower School program that we introduce and focus on that help our young students start to frame their educational success. These tools, strategies, and a multi-sensory reading program, along with the professional development that our teachers are consistently working on, set a great foundation for our elementary students to build upon and take with them to our Middle School.
One of the first things we begin to address from the first day of school is executive functioning skills. It is important for students with learning and attention differences, especially at a young age, to have structure and routine and to start developing good habits they can carry with them through life. Our intentionally designed notebook system helps our students with organization, character building, setting routine habits such as making sure you have what you need to take home for homework and turning assignments in on time. It is also a communication tool for teachers and parents/guardians as well as potential data for administrators. It also has a checks and balances component that works really well. Our other divisions continue to use a specifically designed planner system that delves into other features necessary for that particular age group - but this system in our Lower School really sets the building blocks.
This year our teachers are working hard on professional development that focuses on annotation and writing across the various curriculums. They are working in subject matter groups framing procedures that will be addressed across each division. Our theme from the Noble Academy WayⓇ this year is Structure and Organization of which we believe that it is important for a student as they progress towards graduation to see consistant annotation and writing principles. Amanda Carter, our Head of School, repeatedly chanted this past summer in meetings that we will develop “independent and strategic readers and writers.” She was and still is very pumped up about this professional development - our cheerleader behind the team.
Along those lines of professional development, our Lower School teachers have been using Responsive ClassroomⓇ now for a couple of years - this is a student-centered, social/emotional approach to teaching and discipline in the classroom. This classroom approach allows a teacher to use specific wordage and modeling techniques to address a particular situation and helps to set a tone for mutual respect and community building.
Last but not least - the Wilson Reading SystemⓇ- our baby - what we hang our hat on because we believe in it that much - is the system that teaches our students with dyslexia and language based difficulties, and also other students in the community, the rules of English for reading and spelling in a structured and organized way. We believe in it so much that we became a WilsonⓇ Accredited Partner. In our Lower School all of our teachers are trained in this research based, systematic, multi-sensory approach to reading - and as a WilsonⓇ Accredited Partner along with having Aimee Picon, our Director of Educational Outreach, as well as a WilsonⓇ Dyslexia Therapist and WilsonⓇ Credentialed Trainer, is currently training teachers all over the country.
The last thing I particularly want to mention about our Lower School is that when students come to us from other settings - especially when they are young and are starting to notice differences between their friends and themselves, and their confidence in their academics is starting to slip - the first thing they realize at Noble Academy is that no one is different here. They are not pulled out of their classroom to do reading or math separately - they realize they are here for a reason and that helps them to see that there are others just like them, some with the same challenges and some with different ones - but they learn acceptance, and we see, whether we knew it or not, that this is just one small step that builds a rich DEI program.
Off to Middle School next week! Stay tuned.
By Christy Avent, Director of Enrollment Management