Click on this link to watch an extended interview with our Head of School Steve Wilkins and Dean Bragonier, founder of NoticeAbility, in which Steve discusses our approach, our history, and our purpose.
The job of a Carroll teacher is to: (a) provide each child with what she or he most needs in order to become a successful and engaged student, (b) mobilize each student to become an active, self-aware learner, and (c) diminish the obstacles that impede each Carroll student’s education.
How does Carroll provide each child with what she or he most needs?
1. Understanding each child’s needs at deep levels- through diagnostic testing, examination of student work samples, daily progress monitoring, and discussions among parents and educators
2. Designing education programs based on each child’s unique needs
3. Providing each child with a focus area class that is targeted on what that student most needs; for most Carroll students this translates to three language arts classes as the core of the remedial and educational program, although many children have a math class as their focus area class
4. Grouping students with others who possess virtually the same academic skills level and cognitive skill set
5. Moving students as quickly as they can go and as slowly as they need, as they move forward in skill development and curricular content
6. Constantly assessing student progress and adjusting a child’s program accordingly
7. Addressing both the overt academic skills (e.g. reading, spelling, writing, math) as well as that which underlies the learning struggles (e.g. memory functions, processing speed challenges)
8. Building self-understanding, tenacity, resilience, and optimism in each child
9. Ensuring that every day includes educational experiences that enhance the strengths within a child’s learning profile (e.g. arts, movement and athletics, content learning in science and social studies, leadership and service to others)
The Skill Set of the Carroll Teacher
We accomplish this through careful teacher and tutor professional development. Carroll teachers need to be able to succeed where other teachers simply didn’t have the acquired skills to help our children. We believe that teachers need to be lifelong learners. Often we engage outside experts to give us perspective. At other times, we study essential questions on our own. One of the topics most often discussed is “What is the Carroll School Approach” and “What does it mean to be an Orton-Gillingham based school?” At Carroll, all teachers adhere to the following principles, in all subject areas, in all classrooms, and in all instruction:
- Cognitive Approach- We know that our smart children will be able to use their thinking skills to create, remember, and apply effective strategies. We do not rely solely on rote learning; we actively teach children how to become good learners.
- Direct and Explicit- Carroll teachers are trained to state objectives clearly so that children understand. We make sure that every skill, concept, and lesson is understood by the student before we move forward.
- Structured and Sequential- Teachers design lessons based on what students learned the day before. With that structure in mind, teachers move their students from the known to the unknown, from the concrete to the abstract, and from the simple to the complex.
- Teaching Approach- Carroll teachers need to be masters of knowing when to teach in a direct and explicit manner (that promotes adherence to necessary conventions, such as learning to read) and when to support an constructivist approach (that promotes student discovery, such as developing number sense). A highly skilled teacher knows which approach is appropriate for which child under which conditions.
- Cumulative- Carroll’s curriculum and instruction build on top of what is solidly in the students’ skill set. We spiral back regularly to make sure that the students are maintaining their skills from previous lessons.
- Multisensory- A good Carroll classroom has students talking, students up and out of their chairs, students with their hands on learning tools, students at the interactive whiteboard, and students explaining what they know.
- Alphabetic-Phonetic- In all areas of the curriculum, we teach the underlying structure of the English Language as it is written to the students at their appropriate level.
These Carroll School principles are:
- Embedded into our lesson plans daily;
- For everyone- everywhere- every day;
- The way our children need to learn;
- The thread that holds us together;
- The spine of our teaching approach;
- Automatically applied;
- Not just for the language program but for all disciplines.