4 Pillars of Teaching & Learning
HOW LEARNING BEST OCCURS
Education begins with meeting students where they are emotionally, socially, physically and academically. Every school must provide students a safe learning environment to thrive and grow. Dynamic schools result from consistent and purposeful reflection on attributes and factors that contribute to effectiveness across schooling contexts. SDGVA is a seat-based program that meets Common Core State Standards taught in a student-centered challenging environment.
Over the past decade SDGVA has cultivated four pillars fundamental to the success of our school-wide culture, classroom communities, pedagogical practices of educators, student learning outcomes and the leadership development of stakeholders. SDGVA’s four pillars include Inquiry, Social-Emotional Learning, Leadership, and Social Justice.
Pillar 1: Inquiry
In inquiry-based classrooms, students are engaged in tasks that offer deep, meaningful learning, fosters curiosity and personal engagement and ownership, encourage collaboration and often lead students to action. At SDGVA, we center inquiry around content-related big ideas, essential questions, and enduring understandings and connect these with real-world, real-life issues as opposed to covering facts in a cursory way.
- Universal Design Learning (UDL) Principles guide SDGVA towards students centered pedagogical practices.
- Using the Inquiry Framework and a Gradual Release Approach, SDGVA educators “Launch, Guide, and Support” student inquiries:
- At SDGVA we emphasize a mentor text inquiry approach to writing instruction that corresponds to our students’ zone of proximal development.
- Guided reading is a small-group instructional context in which an educator supports each reader's development of systems of strategic actions for processing new texts at increasingly challenging levels of difficulty.
- SDGVA facilitates Cognitive Guided Instruction (CGI) and Number Talks as student-centered approach to mathematics instruction.
- Inquiry based science instruction allows students an opportunity to explore the natural or material world, ask questions, and make discoveries in the search for new understandings.
- SDGVA educators utilize the History-Social Science Framework that identifies and defines four key elements of the discipline interwoven throughout the framework: content, inquiry, literacy, and citizenship.
- SDGVA is committed to anti-bias pedagogical practices that assist children to learn more about multiple aspects of their identity, to communicate and collaborate while honoring those differences in background and perspective, and to engage as active citizens in our school community, local neighborhood and the world.
Pillar 2: Social-Emotional
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions (CASEL).
- Academic Resiliency
SDGVA students learn to implement strategies to fortify a resiliency and foster a growth mindset. When cultivating resilience, students combine identity & agency.
- Social Thinking Principles
Social thinking supports students to increases awareness and capacity for self-regulation. At the heart of Social Thinking we expect humans to make mistakes along the way and to understand they are equally responsible for utilizing the appropriate tools to remedy the problem as well.
- Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS)
SDGVA implements PBIS which is an evidence-based framework for providing systemic and individualized strategies for obtaining positive academic and behavior outcomes while preventing problem behavior.
Pillar 3: Leadership
Leadership is about the art of motivating, influencing and directing people so that they work together to achieve the goals of a team or broader organization. It’s important for students to experience leadership opportunities during their schooling, to learn the art of building relationships within teams, defining identities and achieving tasks effectively.
- Leadership Report Card
- Tae Kwon Do
- Awards Ceremony
Pillar 4: Social Justice
SDGVA challenges educational inequality by raising awareness of systematic inequities for under-represented groups. Today’s diverse community, demand both educators and students to have knowledge and skills to actively take a stand against injustice.
- Teaching Tolerance Anti-Bias Framework
SDGVA commits to developmentally utilizing the Teaching Tolerance Anti-Bias Framework, a set of anchor standards and age-appropriate learning outcomes divided into four domains—Identity, Diversity, Justice and Action.
SDGVA students participate in service-learning. In grades TK-5, educators and students create whole class projects related to the content taught in class. SDGVA middle school students form cohorts around previously taught topics of interest.
- Inclusion Philosophy
At SDGVA, our classrooms are designed and differentiated to include students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment available. We have evidence over the years this promotes inclusive friendships, higher performance of social competence and achievement for all stakeholders in our learning community.
- Restorative Justice Philosophy
Involving the students in restorative practices creates space for students to reflect on and to be an active participant in overcoming obstacles or mistakes. Rather than a punitive approach to discipline, SDGVA students take on the responsibility of restoring the classroom community after misjudgments.
- Culturally Responsive Pedagogy
Culturally Responsive Pedagogy brings students to the center of decisions and serves as a foundation for how educators create instruct in ways all students can access. SDGVA believes “that classrooms can be places of hope, where students and teachers gain glimpses of the kind of society we could live in and where students learn the academic and critical skills needed to make that vision a reality” (Rethinking Schools, 2017).