CDS strives to make sure that the needs of each child are met. This goal calls for a team effort between parents, students (who are increasingly taking more active roles in their own education), and CDS’ teachers, who strive to support the students’ learning endeavors to the best of their ability.
At CDS, teachers are charged with:
- forming a team for the education of each student that includes the student and his or her family
- creating conditions in the classroom that maximize learning and achievement
- employing expert knowledge of child development, teaching strategies and subject matter
- organizing information about how and what each child is learning, and using this knowledge to tailor instruction and advocate for each student
When forming teams to support student learning, here is how we define the role of each member:
- the student is responsible (increasingly) for his or her own education in an age-appropriate way
- the student-parent-teacher team creates optimal conditions for this education
- the Head Teacher is the leader and organizer of this team, and the leading authority on the accumulated wisdom on how the student learns in school (in grades 5-8, this role is played by the Middle School Head)
- the Learning Specialist is responsible for maintaining student information in a central location, and supporting all members of the team with resources, ideas and hands-on help
- the Assistant Head of School monitors this organization and helps out where necessary.
- the Head of School helps out where necessary, and is always involved where there is a question of whether or not CDS is the right environment for the student
Our aim is that each child be challenged and even struggle, in his or her own way. CDS is committed to meeting a wide range of abilities, stimulating a range of interests and addressing a variety of needs. Teachers use a variety of methods to meet the needs of their diverse learners, including:
- Differentiation – instructional methods are designed to meet students’ needs, and may include learning centers, cooperative groups and projects. All students will be challenged to high levels of accomplishment.
- Skill development – teachers work with small groups to target specific areas of skill development; classes are designed to target specific developmental needs and learning goals, such as “Navigating Middle School” for fifth graders and “Navigating High School” for eighth graders.
- Formative and authentic assessment – teachers provide ongoing opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding in a variety of ways. Teachers meet 1-on-1 with students to measure their understanding and progress, and observe and record student growth in individual and small group activities. Other strategies used include quizzes and tests, portfolios and student demonstrations and presentations.
- Curriculum design – teachers develop curriculum using methods that emphasize understanding of big ideas, skills and concepts (i.e. the Project Approach and Understanding by Design).
Our Learning Specialists, Trudy Hamm and Alexsarah Collier, become involved when an additional point of view or expertise seems necessary to help students fulfill their highest academic and social/emotional potential. Services provided by the CDS Learning Specialists include:
- Teaming with teachers, administrators, parents and students to develop, implement and monitor effective educational plans that meet individual students’ needs
- Helping teachers design and implement strategies and accommodations to support individual students’ learning styles
- Academically screening struggling students to determine skill development and to help create support plans
- Referring families to outside resources for remediation and in-depth testing
- Interpreting and analyzing academic, neuropsychological, occupational therapy and speech and language assessments
- Leading professional development for faculty that supports and enriches teachers’ understanding of different learning styles
Tutoring and Outside Educational Specialists
We work hard to meet the needs of each student. Sometimes students require services that are beyond what we can provide in the classroom. When this happens, we refer families to outside services or tutoring. We strive to match students with tutors and therapists that will best serve the student’s individual learning style. The CDS Learning Specialist(s) and classroom teacher(s) partner closely with parents and outside specialists to create the best learning environment for each student.
Tutoring and accessing educational specialists is usually arranged at the family’s expense. Our Learning Specialists maintain a file of tutors and specialists.