How to Give Students an Education Tailored Just for Them

How to Give Students an Education Tailored Just for Them
  • Give Each Child
Steve Wilkins, Head of School Blog


Gec Washman - Carroll’s mythological guru whose name is a loose acronym for “give each child what she or he most needs” - inspired the opening themes for the 2016-2016 year at Carroll School.

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Why isn’t giving each child what she or he most needs the opening theme for every school, every school year? A large part of the answer is that it is simply too lofty a goal, for most. It is just too hard to accomplish, for most. At Carroll School, though, we are determined to figure out how to deliver on this promise. During our opening week of faculty meetings, we took on Gec’s challenge.

The faculty and staff engaged in activities designed to answer this question: How the heck can we deliver to each child what she or he most needs? One activity, called “We Believe Statements”, generated over 50 statements of what we believe about the education of children, positive learning environments, and humane treatment of all of us who work and live in schools. These statements are profound and responsive to Gec’s challenge.

The faculty/staff challenge was to narrow all these thoughtful visions into a handful of harmonious statements.

Social-Emotional Well-Being of Students

We believe that our commitment to children’s healthy social emotional well-being goes hand-in-hand with their academic success. We strive to create an environment where students feel safe, valued, connected, and secure, empowering them to take risks and become confident independent members of our community.

Diagnostic and Prescriptive Teaching Methods

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.

Teachers and Growth Mindset for Learning

We believe teachers are lifelong learners and have the power to change the lives of students by instilling a growth mindset for learning.

Give Each Child What She or He Most Needs

We believe that our diagnostic, prescriptive, multisensory, student-centered teaching guides our decisions about how to give each child what she or he most needs, including capitalizing on students’ strengths and addressing learning struggles.

The faculty, then, on the Friday of our preparation week generated a list of how Carroll operationalizes a dynamic system that attempts to deliver optimally to each child. The list includes the following attributes:

  • Teachers feel free to seek answers & share the challenges
  • Lots of opportunity and freedom to take risks
  • Low student to teacher ratio
  • Coaching- no teacher left alone- coaches and teachers problem solve together
  • Flexibility of curriculum - encouraged (required!) to individualize
  • Community builds social-emotional strength 
  • Bring all teachers and tutors together; problem-solving when kids are struggling; doing better with all students 
  • Data and information is accessible and understood
  • Parental involvement is consistent and open
  • Access to all aspects of a child’s experience help in our pursuits
  • Class size and ability to track skills & group appropriately is critical
  • Time for collaboration - informal conversations, formal meetings/casing, on-going progress monitoring
  • Communication between parents, teachers, advisors - transfer of information is critical
  • Ability to turn on a dime - make a change, modify quickly
  • Culture and expectations are clear - it is embraced & understood
  • Collective wisdom - calling upon the expertise of many 
  • Ask the kids; listen to the students
  • Trust between parents, teachers, counselors, etc that help facilitate the process
  • Love that teachers have for working here and the commitment to supporting these kids
  • Daily appreciation for colleagues
  • Give Each Child
  • Social Emotional
  • Teachers & Tutors



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