Philosophy of Teaching

A Walden education offers a unique opportunity for learning across subject areas. We teach the whole child by integrating arts and academics in an environment that supports collaboration as an important educational tool while still respecting the needs of the individual learner. Many schools focus solely on the cognitive needs of the child. When we say we teach the whole child, we mean that while we challenge and support children in their academic learning through small classes and individualized instruction, we are also attending to their social, emotional, and physical development. In order to support social growth among the students, teachers have three meetings a day during which they create a space for students to share their common interests and personal stories. These meetings are truly child centered as the children set the agenda involving friendship and conflict resolution. The concerns of students are validated and supported by peers as well as teachers. We understand that emotions can impact learning. It is essential that we as educators address the emotional needs of our students in order to positively affect their learning. Our small class sizes allow teachers to dedicate time and space every day to attend to the important details of a student’s emotional world. Ample free time in the form of a thirty minute morning break and a sixty minute lunch time gives children lots of opportunities for gross motor development which in turn aids the synthesizing of ideas as we engage students’ physical selves in their learning. Our curriculum incorporates grade-level expectations, using state and national frameworks as guidelines, including the National Council of Mathematics and the National Council of Teachers of English, with developmentally appropriate theme-based units often chosen by the students themselves. Children’s natural curiosity helps guide the subject matter that we study. Our small class-size allows us to bring more active, hands-on learning into our classrooms, and to create stimulating environments in which students feel inspired to explore, take risks, and share who they are. Teachers incorporate anti-bias and multicultural perspectives into the learning experiences. We believe mixed-age classes foster a sense of community and help kids understand that students can be teachers, and that inspired teachers are constantly learning. We value autonomy and personal responsibility, as well as empathy and group process. Our teachers work together in teams, sharing experience, knowledge and familiarity with different learning styles to plan curricula that will spark and support learning for each individual student. Teachers regularly assess students' progress informally with every activity, and more formally at benchmark assignments throughout a unit. We strive to create classroom cultures in which students can learn how they learn and mistakes are as important as successes in understanding their own individual learning styles. Parent-teacher conferences instead of report cards provide opportunity for dialogue about each child’s social growth, emotional development, and academic achievement. Careful observations, anecdotes, and work samples are shared between parents and teachers at regularly scheduled conferences.