Instructional Practices at Woodland
Clarity of purpose:
What do we want students to know and understand? What interactions/experiences/guiding questions will help them gain this understanding? How can/will this knowledge be applied?
Discussion and collaboration:
Explaining thinking supports synthesis of new ideas, per the old adage: "I teach, I understand." Making sense of the thinking of others deepens understanding, as a different lens requires students to consider what they know from a new perspective. And thinking with a partner often yields richer results.
Feedback that is varied and frequent:
Students need to know how they are progressing and what they can do to meet their next learning goal. Teachers give feedback to students individually (on math assessments, on writing and reading assignments), in small groups (on collaborative efforts such as group projects or class activities) and as a class.
Checks for understanding:
Frequent formative assessment helps to determine where a student is compared to the learning goal or desired understanding, so we can tailor our instruction to further student learning.
"Students are given opportunities to plan and organize, monitor their own work, direct their own learning, and to self-reflect along the way. When we provide students with time and space to be aware of their own knowledge and their own thinking, student ownership [and learning] increases."
Integrating all of these practices into the daily work with students is challenging, but thanks to the skill and dedication of our talented teaching staff, we are up to the challenge.
Advice for Parent-teacher Conferences
#1: This is a 2-way conversation
"The parent– teacher conference is an opportunity for parents to learn about their children's progress in school and for teachers to gain insights into their students' home and community lives. Parent perspectives on student strengths and needs, learning styles, and non-school learning opportunities can help teachers shape their instructional methods."
#2: Emphasis on learning
"Research shows that family involvement is most effective when it is "linked to learning." An important goal of the first parent–teacher conference is to develop new strategies or refine existing ones to support student learning at school and at home." Our teachers will be prepared to discuss academic progress of students using examples of student work. Parents should share any outside supports they have in place (tutors, academic enrichment, etc) so teachers can take those resources into consideration as they gauge student progress.
Teachers will also share their observations on your son or daughter's social-emotional progress, and may make recommendations, such as encouraging new friendships.
Parents and teachers have a mutual goal of supporting each child to be his or her best, so the principles of "Be Heard" resonate as good reminders that our effective partnership is critical to achieving this goal.
About the Author:
Meena Tahiliani, Lower School Dean of Students
Meena serves as Woodland's Lower School Dean & Math Specialist. Meena is a former structural engineer with a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University. After six years as a practicing engineer, she shifted gears to follow her true passion – helping kids channel their potential in math to find enjoyment in the subject and the confidence to pursue a math-based career.