My students are a fun-loving, hard-working group of kids from diverse backgrounds in grades 6-8. They can be wildly enthusiastic and incredibly interesting, and they never cease to amaze me! I can only hope that they learn as much from me as I learn from them each day.
Students from across the county join our school because of the unique academic approach that we offer, focusing on the well-being and education of our kids, rather than on test-performance.
Enrollment is determined entirely by lottery, and is available equally to all students, regardless of income and previous academic achievement. Students stay within their teams for the three years of middle school, and by the end, they develop a close, sibling-like relationship with their classmates. This permits them to learn about one another and develop a deeper understanding of their peers.
We focus on units of study in our classes so that students can deepen their knowledge across subject area lines. The kids benefit from interdisciplinary projects and studies that bring unifying themes into multiple classrooms. I love when students are studying a topic and get excited by a connection they make from another class!
This professional development tour will help strengthen the units of study for my students, based on the model of the Finnish Phenomena-Based Learning method. The education program in Finland has been lauded as one of the best in the world for the past 20 years. It is available to ALL students, not just to a privileged few, and has achieved success across the board with very little disparity from school to school.
This opportunity will give me a chance to meet with Finnish educators, administrators, and the members of their board of education to learn what works and how they've managed to develop such a successful program, so that I can bring these methods back to my own students.
My students will benefit from instructional methods that have a strong track record, proven over time, and any success that we discover, I will happily share with fellow educators in other schools. Education is about finding and sharing what works, rather than hoarding a few successful techniques.
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