The Whole Child: Understanding Students and Their Unique Learning Styles

The Whole Child: Understanding Students and Their Unique Learning Styles
  • Assessment
  • Teachers & Tutors
Glens Colman

Excerpted from our newsletter: Carroll Connection, Winter 2017. In this edition, we highlighted 4 key belief statements that came from our all-staff meeting held prior to the 2016-17 school year. Read the full edition.

BELIEF STATEMENT #2: We believe that through a dynamic process informed by parents, teachers, counselors, data, and student performance, we can identify and provide each child with what she or he most needs in order to optimize performance in both academic and social/emotional realms and become strong self-advocates and lifelong learners. Read our belief statements.

“The most dynamic change that we found from when our daughter was in public school to Carroll was that she could finally access her education and she stopped feeling like a failure every day.”

We hear this story so often from our parent community - their bright children struggling to achieve academically as their confidence takes a hit, parents frustrated as they spend extra hours supporting homework outside their child’s grasp. It’s what fuels our vision to give each child what he or she most needs.

But how do we accomplish this? The answer is simple - get a whole picture of a child’s strengths and the struggles that inhibit learning. The solution is complex.

Understanding a child’s profile is the concerted effort of many staff and faculty members, an incredible amount of data, and the time to ensure careful and thoughtful review. It looks something like this.

Admissions Team and Team-to-Team Transfers

Admissions and/or previous team members gather and communicate important information to current teachers through team-to-team transfers at spring/summer meetings, at the beginning of the year, and within our student information system.

Teachers and Tutors

Teachers and tutors participate in a “file review” of their students prior to school beginning. Observations, formative assessment, curriculum-based assessments, and standardized assessments are all tools teachers use to monitor progress.


Every faculty member has a coach that meets with them weekly to discuss students and programming. Often coaches are department heads and will work with teachers to understand each of their student’s learning profiles.

Academic Teams

Each grade level has a team of teachers who meet weekly with relevant administrators to discuss student progress across disciplines. In the middle school, each advisor presents a student’s profile to all other team members through a case conference. Action plans are developed for all students.

Administrative Teams

Each division has an administrative team that meets weekly to discuss student progress and concerns. These teams look closely at data pertaining to both the performance of each department as well as the progress of each student. Department Heads also participate in administrative meetings once a week to address important relevant issues regarding student programming.

Child Study

When specific concerns about a student persist, the student is then brought to a focused review by the academic leadership team. During these meetings, a cross-section of educators from various departments (academic, counseling, cognitive, administrative) meet together to complete a “grand round” study of that student in order to clearly identify the presenting issue and discuss how the child’s neurological profile may be contributing to the difficulties s/he is experiencing. A formal plan is developed.

Parent Communications

Parent communication is paramount to this system and Carroll School faculty try to stay in close contact with parents regarding student progress. This includes frequent emails and conversations with teachers, department heads, counselors, and administrators as well as parent conferences and progress reports eight times per year.

  • Assessment
  • Learning Profiles
  • Teachers & Tutors

Recent Posts

Exploring Identity through Team Time
Molly McKeever

In the 3rd Grade this year, we're focusing on concepts of identity in our new bi-weekly “Team Time” block. “Team Time” is dedicated to a series of all-grade group projects and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) activities—part of the larger work we’ve been doing on DEI at Carroll.

Exploring Identity through Team Time
Lily Durant, Grade 3

“Team Time” is when we think about our community, and the communities around us. Mrs. McKeever has an awesome collection of books that we read, and then do a project on each one. We talk about different perspectives and putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, to see things from their point of view. It’s important to have diversity—life would be boring without it!

Exploring Identity through Team Time
Abby Zwetchkenbaum

The DEI Coordinator is a newly formed volunteer role that started at the Lower School this year. We sat down with Abby Zwetchkenbaum, 5th Grade Language Arts Teacher, 5th Grade Team Lead, and DEI Coordinator, to hear about how this role is making an impact at Carroll.

How the Lower School Is Building Community - one Caught Ya! at a time
Michele Hales and Elizabeth Quansah

The Lower School’s values of ERIK (empathy, respect, inclusion, kindness) is a grounding way to concretely talk to students about the ways we should act in a community with one another. We introduce these values throughout the school year through books, videos, and engaging activities that help define what each value means, and what it looks like in action.

Evolving Our Professional Development to Meet Today's - and Tomorrow's - Needs
Alissa Benway

As the Assistant Division Head for the Middle School, I’m involved in developing and providing pedagogy courses at Carroll. The Carroll courses started as a way to train staff to be successful teachers at Carroll. It’s important that these courses continue to evolve each year, and that we remain committed to improving the content to meet the needs of our educators and our students.

How our 6th and 7th Graders Worked Together to Accomplish Team Challenges
Emma Creeden

Every grade at Carroll forms a really nice community amongst themselves, but I had noticed there was not a lot of interaction between our grades. We have so much wonderful space on campus, and the ability to adjust our schedules to create time for meaningful activities and pursuits to educate the whole child—and I saw an opportunity. That’s how the HAWKS Nest project came to be.

Taking Orton-Gillingham to the Next Level to Fulfill Our Mission
Joanne Nimmo and Jenny Talentino

Carroll educators are constantly assessing and considering new approaches and strategies to ensure we fulfill our mission to give each student what they need to succeed academically. This rings true even at the core of Carroll’s academic program—Orton-Gillingham tutoring.

Integrating Diversity into Orton-Gillingham Tutoring
Sarah Napier

Carroll’s diversity and inclusion work is deeply important to me, both in my work as an educator, and personally. When I began working at Carroll five years ago, the school was just beginning DEI training with faculty. Recently, the Middle School has moved towards integrating that work in the classroom with the Foundations for Brave Conversations curriculum. As an advisor and homeroom teacher leading these conversations, it inspired me to think about how to incorporate more diverse books into my tutorials.

Will Close ‘11 on Activating Learning in Bounders
David Johnson

Carroll alum Will Close ’11, recently shared with me that “Multis”—the arts, physical education, outdoor education programs at Carroll—helped set him on a path to become a lifelong learner. It wasn’t just writing papers or doing projects in our classrooms that activated his learning. Rather, he discovered his love of education in the Bounders Woods, in the Arts & Innovation Center, in the gym, and on the rock wall.