On Wednesday, January 31, 2018, I left my student self at home, arrived at Sewickley Academy somehow bypassing my bachelor's degree and master's degree and went straight to earning a doctorate degree as I had the pleasure of shadowing Dr. Bevan Koch. I knew from previous meetings with her that this day would be informational as well as fun, but I never imagined how much I would actually discover and learn until I arrived.
I have been a student at the Academy since Grade 2. That being said, I am a student. On any given day, my job is to learn from the teachers, ask them questions, and be a part of conversations that we have in class. Because I wasn’t sitting in 75-minute classes today, I thought that I stopped being a student; I have never been more wrong! As we walked around the school visiting different classrooms in different divisions, I found myself asking questions, being a part of the conversation, and, most of all, learning from the teachers and other students.
Our day started as we visited numerous classrooms and observed the different styles of teaching, learning, and engaging. We observed the use of direct instruction, facilitated understanding, and the use of coaching or guided practice in different scenarios and classes. We started off in the Middle School, then headed over to Early Childhood before visiting the Lower School. Each class was learning something different; each class used a different technique or style to get the point across. Although we visited three different divisions with different subjects and goals, the teachers used similar techniques and styles that we had previously seen before, but they modified those techniques to fit their own unique classes.
Before this magical Wednesday, I didn’t understand why teachers teach the way they do. I thought that the way teachers teach depends on how they prefer to transfer the information to their students. However, as I walked around the campus observing and connecting, I realized this is not the case. Teachers teach using different styles that better suit their classes and their students’ needs. Throughout the years, teachers have become almost mind readers. They can tell when the students are engaged, when they are confused, when they are lost, and when they are bored and not paying attention. Teachers use their “powers” and students’ body language to actively choose which technique (or a mix of styles) works best to keep the students engaged and active in their classes. Whether it is sitting in a circle on the ground discussing a previous lab or reading and writing letters to pet rats, teachers have learned what works best for their classes and students have been thriving ever since. I think it’s about time someone hands them a giant apple for all their hard work on behalf of the students of Sewickley Academy.