Understanding what ignites a spark within each of their students is something that Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School strives for every day. Their goal? To know their students individually, working tirelessly to R.E.A.C.H out to each student in many different ways.
At Beth Tfiloh, R.E.A.C.H stands for Remember respect, Express kindness, Accept responsibility, Create community, and Have gratitude. All are themes that the Lower School focuses on each year; they are also ways that the students not only create the school rules, but also create and participate in different community committees that help each other and plan initiatives that range from recycling to celebrations.
In Emily Eisner’s second grade classroom, students are working collectively to fill a marble jar that visually represents how many times students demonstrate the school’s core values.
“Each marble is a literal reminder of their demonstration of one of our core values. Students have opportunities to add marbles to the jar for demonstrating respect, kindness, gratitude, or responsibility,” said Ms. Eisner, Beth Tfiloh class of 2012. “I encourage students to ‘catch’ other classmates exhibiting these characteristics and ‘tell on them.’ You’d be surprised how often students come to me explaining how another classmate was kind or responsible or expressed gratitude without me knowing and that he or she deserves to add a marble to our jar.”
Everyday examples of core values in action are readily available, and teachers like Ms. Eisner work each day to connect to their students, using a “Responsive Classroom” method.
“In BT’s Lower School, we know every child as an individual. Small class sizes combined with our Responsive Classroom curriculum allows teachers, specialists and administrators to create classroom communities where all students are known by both their teachers and their peers in deep and important ways,” explained Lower School Principal Dr. Susan Holzman. “This allows us to adjust instruction to meet the needs of each child. This is not a one-size-fits-all kind of school.”
Enrichment for students is also a strong focus for teachers at Beth Tfiloh. Ms. Eisner worked closely with her second grade math class, and when she realized that her students had a firm understanding of their multiplication facts, she decided to take her lessons one step further. She challenged her students to design a movie theatre — using visual representations of multiplication concepts to depict the total number of seats, and then calculating the largest profit they can make based on ticket price sales.
“Providing the students with this enrichment project has empowered them to take ownership over their own learning,” said Ms. Eisner. “They are more willing to explain how the mathematical concepts connect to their designs and in turn have been able to troubleshoot when problems arise. It has been rewarding to watch their conceptual understanding grow and see the excitement on their faces as they realize the real world implications of math!”
The value sharing, personal connections to the community, and rigor are all things that help Beth Tfiloh to shine.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of our School Spotlight Series. Each week, we will spotlight one of our partner schools to give you a glimpse into what learning looks like on their campus. To learn more about Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, visit their directory listing in our Independent School Directory. Images were provided by the school. Want to become a school partner? Email us.