An Innovative Approach to Designing a School Schedule that Meet Each Child's Needs

An Innovative Approach to Designing a School Schedule that Meet Each Child's Needs
  • Give Each Child
Steve Wilkins, Head of School Blog

Organize a school’s educational program around the notion of giving each child what she or he most needs. Sounds good, right? This approach is really different from almost all of America’s schools that organize their programs around prescribed curriculum maps.  You know, on Tuesday, December 14th we need to be on page 136 of the textbook.

The reason that schools don’t organize themselves to give each child what she or he most needs is that it isn’t easy. In fact, it is remarkably difficult. As a result, most schools do the easier thing. They build a map of what an academic course is going to look like and then follow it religiously for the year.

At Carroll, we are working mightily to adjust. In a school that already customizes its programs for each student, how much further can we go? The Academic Leadership Team (ALT) is diving deeper into the challenge every week. Our department heads and teachers are already brilliant in their ability to adjust a student’s program within the given structures of their classes. Could we go further and adjust the actual array of classes a student takes?

Historically, every child at Carroll recieves roughly the same set of classes: a double language arts class, a focused language tutorial of small group, one math class, and a collection of science, social studies, gym/Bounders, and arts. This has been the approach for decades. In fact, student outcomes reveals that this program works for over 85% of Carroll students.

But what about the approximately 15% for whom a different alignment of educational programs would make more sense? Can Carroll gyrate to meet the needs of these students more effectively? Gec Washman - Carroll’s mythological guru who personifies the mantra “give each child what she or he most needs” - preaches that we must.

Early signs of Carroll’s new, nimbler approach are evident. For example:

  • 20% of Middle School students now receive two math classes in their program
  • All students in grades 1-2-3 have a period in the day called “cognitive development”
  • Every student now has a “Flex Block” which offers the possibility of precise interventions on what a child most needs; and
  • The “third language block” is now being used more broadly to meet a child’s unique needs.
  • We are evolving. Gec tells us that we need to. As modern science informs us about how dynamically education can build better brains for learning, we must.
  • Give Each Child

Recent Posts

Renee Greenfield and Maryanne Wolf Discuss the Science of Reading
Dr. Renée Greenfield, Head of School Blog

As I wrote last spring, new research exploring the neuroscience of reading has stirred the debate over how best to teach our children to read. At the forefront of the discussion is Dr. Maryanne Wolf, an internationally-known researcher, teacher, and advocate for children’s literacy, who I had the fortune of learning from as a graduate student. I recently sat down with Maryanne to get her reaction to the current dialogue around the science of reading.

The Impact of Teacher Disposition on Learning Outcomes
Dr. Renée Greenfield, Head of School Blog

In that first year of teaching at Carroll, I thought a lot about what drove their relentless optimism and persistence, neither of which are necessarily taught in teacher education programs. What leads them to work so hard for these kids? Slowly, I began to realize. The ineffable factor—the thing that really ignites learning with students—was, and is, their mindset.

Restorative Circle Practices at Carroll School
Dr. Renée Greenfield, Head of School Blog

Increasingly, restorative practices are being used in schools across the country as a powerful community-building tool. Not only do they offer an effective complement to traditional disciplinary measures, they help students to build important communication and relationship skills. At Carroll, we began exploring the use of restorative practices several years ago ... Dr. Renée shares how it's going and how it fits into Carroll's mission.

Carroll Students Speak: Jay and Stella Share about Belonging, Multis, and Wobbly Chairs
Dr. Renée Greenfield, Head of School Blog

Recently, Stella Grossman, a sixth grader, and Jay Rubenstein, a fourth grader, sat down with Renée to share their thoughts on a range of Carroll topics. Not only do their insights affirm Carroll’s mission, they remind us of the very lives and families we have the privilege of touching—even transforming. 

A Conversation with Dr. Sharon Saline on Dyslexia, ADHD, and Executive Function
Dr. Renée Greenfield, Head of School Blog

More than half of Carroll’s student population has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and/or executive function (EF) challenges, in addition to a language-based learning difference (LBLD). Often, it’s hard to tell which one is at play. How can parents and educators make sense of it all? Clinical psychologist Dr. Sharon Saline answers a few of Dr. Renée Greenfield's questions.

What Is My Role As a Carroll Parent?
Dr. Renée Greenfield, Head of School Blog

What is my role as a Carroll parent? What can or should I do to support my child? I’m asked this question often, particularly among families new to our community. I’m happy to provide a concrete answer.

Parent-Teacher Conferences: Critical to Student Outcomes
Dr. Renée Greenfield, Head of School Blog

At Carroll, our approach to parent-teacher conferences is purposeful and straightforward, and leads to some pretty impactful conferences and, in turn, student outcomes. Learn how conferences are designed to support students throughout the school year and beyond.

Science of Reading Orton-Gillingham Tutor
Dr. Renée Greenfield, Head of School Blog

What’s the best way to teach kids how to read? The reading debate has been simmering for decades. Recently, thanks to a newly named body of research exploring the science of reading, it has captured news headlines. Don’t get me wrong. I’m delighted by today’s energized discussion over how best to teach kids to read. It’s one of the most important conversations we can have as a nation. Here's what I'd like us to pay attention to instead.