Often education today is viewed as an opportunity to get high test scores and make good grades in order to validate one’s potential. The Branch School stands out from the pack as an educational institution with a higher purpose. While our faculty and staff want all our students to do well and make good grades at The Branch School, we also want to instill something deeper in our students. We want to impart to them the love of learning, the willingness to try and fail and try again, and again. Because as The Branch School instructors know, sometimes we learn more from failures than our successes. In fact, what is success for one person is not success for another. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses all of which need to be respected, examined, overcome and built upon as we go through life. There is no one size fits all. At The Branch School we believe that every child has unlimited potential and that this potential is different for every child. We need to celebrate these differences and learn to use them to build a stronger society together. This also means that children need to learn to view themselves and others as unlimited so that not only do they feel unlimited in their own abilities, but that they also view their peers as unlimited and ever growing. How do we do this?
At The Branch School we value questions asked by both teachers and students:
- What would be a good way to approach this problem?
- What do you expect to see happen here?
- Is there a rule or law that would govern this situation?
- How can we team together to solve this?
- Do you agree with this solution?
- Is there another better way to solve the problem?
- Has anyone ever done this before?
- Who has an idea of what to do next?
Both teachers and students explore possible mistakes:
- What did not go as we expected here?
- What can we learn from what happened here?
- What should we do differently when we try this again?
- How could this have been answered in a different way?
- Do you need help or would you like to try this on your own again?
- Did we follow the directions?
- What did we miss when we tried to answer this question?
- Did we listen to all the ideas the team discussed?
- Can we try again?
We make requests:
- Define the problem as you see it.
- Explain another way of looking at this situation.
- Try your new idea and see what happens.
- Please come back and show me what you’ve learned.
- Let’s look at what our classmates did to try and solve this.
We use project-based learning in all our classrooms. How can we work together to explore this idea, solve this problem, present this solution, complete this project? We want our students – from the very youngest ages - to learn to team together, to talk together, to listen together, to share together and to wait patiently on one another as they work and play. We want them to learn to discern the innate goodness that is inside of each one of us and to appreciate the unlimited potential and joy that is in everyone.
We want our students to graduate from The Branch School with a love and respect for the unique potential in their fellow man. We want them to embrace failure with the same joy as they embrace success and never to be afraid of a new idea, a new way of thinking. We want our students to be leaders who love to learn and are ready to lead.
The mission of The Branch School is to inspire students to love, learn, and lead.
This blog was written by Sharon Gregory who is our Dean of Students and an alumni parent. She is a graduate of Cornell University.