The name of the game lately has been “Engagement”. The HCDE motto last year and this is: “Engage Every Child Every Day”
Engagement is certainly our focus. Thrasher has traditionally been a hands-on school. People don’t learn to ride bikes by doing bicycle worksheets. They learn to ride bikes by riding bikes. That applies to content as well. Our students don’t learn writing; they are writers. They are scientists. They are engineers and mathematicians. They are readers. As simple as it seems, it’s just a bit more complicated.
Let me tell you a story.
When my kids were young, we bought a subscription to a pool. My wife decided that we would go to the pool every single day — rain or shine — because, somehow, $390 divided by 60 days is less than $390 divided by 4 days.
Here’s what happened. We spent a few minutes the first day teaching our kids how to blow bubbles in water. Then, we spent the rest of the time getting acclimated to water, building endurance, and blowing bubbles. It was, in essence, a short lesson and a lot of engagement.
Soon, we had the kids try to go from the edge of the pool to us, one lane away. It was an exercise in flailing. The second day, we had them try to reach us two lanes away. Then three. Along the way, we gave them feedback. “You know, if you were to cup your hands (like this) instead of splaying your fingers out (like this), you would get more distance with each stroke. Try it out.”
And, “If you keep your feet under water when you kick, you’ll go farther.” And so on.
Here’s what happened. Within two weeks, the kids were swimming. And, they were swimming pretty well. We saw massive growth each day. Each day, they got a lesson, lots of engagement, and feedback. This, here, is the basics of instruction.
And then this happened: After two weeks, they seemed to swim pretty well, so my wife and I decided to move back to the pool chairs. My kids did not get much better at swimming after that. Sure, their endurance increased some, but their technique and skill did not!
Engagement alone doesn’t produce growth quickly. Instruction is also essential.
Teaching is hard work. It’s relentless. In a nutshell, it’s instruction, engagement, observation, practice, and feedback. It’s testing to make sure it stuck.
All this to say: That’s what we do at Thrasher. We are focused on teaching and learning. The key to teaching and learning is “engagement” and “feedback”.
Look at what our students were doing this week! They were engaged in making solar ovens (and reaping its rewards). They were making models of the solar system to understand the eclipse. And in 34 classrooms, students were actively and joyfully engaged in the content of what makes the world go round.