Thinking Differently about Carroll’s Multis Program: A conversation with Shea Schatell

  • Dyslexia News
Amy Dempster & Kelly Fantegrossi

At Carroll School, we celebrate the “dyslexic advantage” through our Multis program: studio arts, music, improv & performing arts, physical education, Bounders, Fab Lab, mindfulness, and movement 

Today, we’re chatting with Shea Schatell (Carroll’s Multis Department Head) about this year’s Multis program, how the program has adapted to hybrid schooling, and how our master teachers continue to think differently about how they GEC (give each child what they most need).

What are the goals for the Multis program this year?

Shea: This year, our ultimate goal is to create a Multis program that is as inclusive as possible and still shines in all the creative areas that we know our students benefit from. With this year’s hybrid teaching model and the additional hours students spend on computer screens during the day, we are committed to creating a program that is physically active and focuses on the kinesthetic strengths that many of our students have while providing  the creative movement that they need. Our master teachers at Carroll have the training to create a curriculum  that is playful, joyful, and  connects students to their community while building critical communications  and executive function skills.

How has the Multis program changed this year?

Shea: When we are on campus, we’ll be taking Multis outside as much as possible this fall. Our teachers are getting creative about what that looks like. Diane Francis, our Middle School Studio Arts teacher, holds all her classes outside at Needham Station. When I’m on campus, I’ve been leading improv classes in the Buddha Garden and using movement and mindfulness as a way to settle into class each day. Additionally, Mike Kmetz (PE teacher & Athletic Director) has plans to lead off road biking, canoeing, disc golf activities in PE. At the Lower School, each student has two rotations of Multis each day. They have added Mindful Movement and yoga classes alongside music, studio arts, makers, PE, and Bounders. The Upper School’s Fall program focuses on physical outdoor movement and other arts programming. All these classes were added with purpose, not just to keep the kids busy, and fit what our students need right now.

From a pedagogical standpoint, I’ve encouraged the Multis teachers to begin class with rituals that allow kids to greet each other and give them opportunities to share how they are feeling. Rather than jumping right into an activity, this gives them a second to pause, look around, establish awareness, and allows kids a chance to be social. And we end classes similarly. If I or any other Multis teacher can send students to their next class with energy and a positive mindset, then we’ve done our job.

How has the program shifted for remote learning?

Shea: In the spring, we were working with what we knew was true and successful in our programming and adapting it for a remote learning platform. Everything moved so quickly. This year, we have had a lot more time to research and observe what other movement and art educators are doing on a national level. Teaching remotely has introduced an ability to be fluid in reaction to different environments.  It’s inspiring to be working with students to create resilience in this manner.  In a remote classroom, the needs of each student is magnified in a new way  providing an opportunity to step back and create an activity that fits the personality of the group and each student within that group. In some cases,  the medium is not one where the child feels comfortable or adept so we’re constantly thinking about what skills we can work on that builds confidence and self-esteem. This is where GEC plays a strong role in the Multis program.

We’ve also learned a lot about the role equity and inclusion plays in remote learning. Training with Osa Osagie (Director of Equity & Inclusion) helped us to be aware and sensitive to different home environments. When planning activities, we now consider whether each child has the room to bounce a ball? Can they go outside safely and do a nature activity?

What are you most excited about the Multis program for this year?

Shea: The devotion to work with these students never changes. Despite real limitations caused by the pandemic, I’m embracing change and looking forward to becoming an even better teacher. The other Multis teachers and I are coming up with innovative and creative ideas for how to deliver a fun, safe program that is skill-building based. That’s the beauty of Multis - we are aware of the state standards but we can twist and turn it, adapt it, and really take care of these out-of-the-box thinkers. We have specific techniques to build confidence, self-esteem, group dynamics, and leadership abilities and that will keep evolving this year. It comes down to creating really special, awesome moments and experiences and phenomenal lesson plans that can feed the soul and honor their dyslexic advantage.

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