Our new Lower School schedule was developed using five guiding principles: maximize quality learning time, healthy pace for students, collaboration time, community time, and access to program. We imagine that the effect of the new schedule and the ensuing opportunities for our students will fuel their already overwhelming excitement at being a Saint!
Maximize Quality Learning Time/Collaboration Time
The new schedule will be a seven-day rotation which will give students more time in their homerooms for reading and writing workshops, mathematical explorations, and problem-solving. Homerooms are special places at the Lower School; the walls are covered with photos and drawings, dreams and goals for the year, and classroom rules and expectations developed by the students for their collective homeroom family. Increased homeroom time means deeper engagement in our core academic subjects to continue to develop the foundation for academic excellence.
Healthy Pace to the Day
The seven day rotation spreads things out, lengthens the time the students have working in the classroom, while decreasing how often students are moving from place to place or homerooms to special classes. Lower School students will have the chance to take a deep breath and dive deeper into their learning in these longer classroom periods. Students will live in the moment, they will learn in the moment. A multi-day schedule also opens up opportunities for more dedicated playtime during which our young students can recharge through imaginative play and games.
Access to Program
One of the most exciting components of the new schedule is the Expedition Day, or XDay that occurs once in the seven-day rotation. On those days special teachers will work closely with homeroom teachers on activities, integrated learning, and field work during field trips. Students will have the ability to spend extended periods of time delving deep into curriculum and learning, working on projects, or participating in grade-level, divisional, or JK-12 events. Imagine the possibilities! Students could spend an entire day working on a design-thinking project with the support of their science or art teacher, or classes studying government could spend the day in the field, learning from city or state officials. XDays will bring the classroom work of all the other days together, in a real, tangible way that will excite and inspire students. And since all students and teachers in the Lower School will have the same schedule on a XDay, the day provides time for within and across-grade collaboration without interruption.
The Lower School embraces the Responsive Classroom© approach
, which is the cornerstone of building strong classroom communities that support students' positive friendships and social/emotional growth. More time in the homeroom will allow for more reading and writing workshops, mathematical explorations, and problem-solving, and there will be dedicated time for morning meetings and closing meetings each afternoon; homerooms will start the day together sharing with one another, and they will conclude their day in the same way, listening and talking with one another. Additionally, each morning before the start of the school day, teachers and administrators will participate in a Professional Learning Community (PLC). The PLCs will enable teams of teachers and administrators to connect in a regular and dedicated way to plan together, reflect on and revise curriculum, evaluate assessment data, and collaborate to support students. The PLC period will also enable teachers to participate in committee work focusing on whole school initiatives, planning, the development of assessment tools, and the further refinement of our curriculum. This time together for the teachers will tremendously increase the impact they will be able to have on individual students and their needs.