Personalized Experiential Learning

Fostering a healthy community

Boy at The Sycamore School painting a muralWe believe that focusing on building relationships and cultivating a healthy educational community is essential and optimizes learning potential. Students need to feel comfortable, accepted and respected in order to grow both socially and academically. Classrooms need to be healthy containers that foster student safety, resilience, compassion and motivation. Cultivating nurturing, positive and reciprocal student-student and student-staff relationships is at the heart of a healthy learning community.

We do this through…

  • Daily all-school morning meetings
  • Regular community building activities
  • Team Teaching
  • Cooperative Learning Opportunities
  • Embracing diverse viewpoints and acceptance of differences; we encourage each student to find and use his or her unique voice.
  • Cultivating a growth mindset – We want to create a learning community that encourages curiosity, recognizes and accepts failure as part of the learning process, and challenges students to grow.
Engaging and Meaningful Instruction

Students at The Sycamore School in Arlington VAWe believe learning should be meaningful, challenging and engaging. Students need to be actively engaged in their learning and cultivate a strong work ethic.

We do this by:

  • Deliberately small class sizes which allow for flexible student groupings.
  • Allowing teachers and students to be partners in learning - teachers create a dynamic learning process by building relationships with students to personalize instruction to individual academic strengths and weaknesses, interests, and what motivates the student.
  • Teaching both content and process - Teachers balance providing experiential learning activities with the underlying content or theory.
  • Self-paced learning whereby students master skills at their own pace.
  • Offering Flexibility - Students make choices based on interests and influence how content is learned and mastery is demonstrated.
  • Authentic assessments - teachers are assessing student learning throughout each class and using multiple forms of assessment.
  • Offering foundations classes for students who need additional instruction on reading, writing and math skills.
  • Providing high-interest electives and opportunities for movement throughout the day.
  • Helping students make connections across content areas by offering an integrative curriculum & problem-based learning.
Connecting students to themselves and the world around them

Students at black box theater at The Sycamore School in ArlingtonWe believe it’s important to help students learn about themselves and the world around them, to gain perspective and insight on themselves, their peers and their community.

We do this through …

  • A living classroom - students learn and utilize local resources through field studies and service learning opportunities.
  • Offering improv and theater experiences
  • Integrating mindfulness and social & emotional learning into the curriculum
  • Acknowledging and addressing developmental changes – when students go from elementary to middle school and later high school, they are at a point of transition. A healthy learning community acknowledges those transitions and helps students navigate through different developmental stages. Our staff will pay attention to where students are physically, cognitively, and emotionally as they are progress through development and will support students’ changing needs during these transitions.