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Agenda Setting and Closing the Loop are daily routines. Collaboratively, teachers and students determine the events of the day and set the tone and pace of work. Agenda setting also happens at the beginning of sessions, when objectives of a lesson are made transparent. Closing the loop, provides an opportunity to determine what has been accomplished, either at the end of the session or at the end of the day.
Starting the day with Conglom builds a sense of belonging that continues through the day. By prioritizing this community time for the first session of the morning, students recognize that building relationships is an important component of their time at school. This is also an opportunity for teachers to get to know each student better. The boundaries between real life and school life start blurring as students share their experiences from outside school in the classroom. Students do not have to compartmentalize their lives.
Individuals have different memories and feelings of the same experience depending on their inclination, prior experience, and mindsets. Similarly, in schools, students perceive the same experiences in different ways. Reflection makes it possible for students to strengthen details of their individual journey by thoughtfully considering recent experiences and connecting them to earlier ones. In addition, they can evaluate their progress and identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement. Identifying emerging patterns can help students break negative patterns and enhance positive ones. It provides a good springboard to discuss strategies and tackle discrepancies. Ultimately, this helps students to maximize their own learning.
Individuals retain different memories of the same experience depending on their inclination, prior experience, and mindsets. Similarly, in schools, students experience the same unit of learning in different ways. Revisiting makes it possible for them to become familiar with and strengthen the details of their individual journey while aligning themselves to the big ideas and concepts.
Students need skills that are applicable in different real life situations, so that when they encounter a conflict, dilemma or problem, they are capable of strategizing their thinking to find a solution. The explicit understanding of thinking empowers students with the confidence to deal with problems independently.
Students are assessed and evaluated throughout the learning process rather than just at the end of the month / term / year with an examination. It is done in different working contexts so different aspects of students' skills and understanding is revealed. As students are actively involved in the process, they have opportunities to revisit, review and recall the process. Teachers have an opportunity to evaluate student growth (both individual as well as the collective achievement of a grade). The evaluation process is designed to be personalized and specific to individual students, rather than a one-size fits all approach.
High quality teacher development is the key to facilitating student learning. A teacher who understands how children think and learn acquires the skill of designing instruction that offers the best opportunity for each child to grasp concepts. Students experience individualized instruction, which enables each one to realize her potential. This can only be achieved through a continuous study of research in pedagogy, learning theories and their implementation in the classroom.
Regular dialogue between teachers and parents about daily learning and experiences allows parents to get a closer view of the classroom and their child's life in it. They are able to witness their child's growth in all domains (cognitive, physical, social and emotional). When their children's learning and progress becomes visible and accessible, parents gain a more qualitative understanding of the learning as opposed to a quantitative numeral or grade. That understanding helps parents support their children better during the school years. The focus shifts to nurturing the child's wellbeing, celebrating learning and viewing him/her as a more holistic individual.
Through Peer and Public Scrutiny, students imbibe the idea that for almost everything in real life, teams of people make things happen. In addition, they realize that the public - the audience or user - is the ultimate judge of the strength of an idea or product. Through this process, students begin to understand how 'life' works and see a reason for thinking from the point of view of the end user/audience.
Authentic experiences establish the relevance of what the child is learning. They make connections from the classroom to the real world. Real life situations allow for boundaries to be blurred between disciplines and domains. Students get to see the application of skills from each domain used seamlessly. The transfer of learning from one domain to the other is enabled without seeming contrived. Since there is a wide range of skills and concepts to be applied, it allows for differentiated instruction, where a child can choose an area of her strength, interest and readiness.
Twice a year the students participate in a mixed grade sports day which is aimed at the key stage closer together as a community, as well as discovering and value the unique range of talents that exist within. As a result there is a strong focus on building culture within the groups in the week preceding - developing innovative entrances, chants, costumes, dance performances, logos and speeches - as well as participating in a diverse range of sports on the day. The belief that underpins this process is that if made fun and inclusive, sport is something that can be enjoyed equally by everyone and offers a powerful tool for building gender equality and developing positive attitudes among students.
Cultivating the 5 minds- disciplinary, creating, synthesizing, respectful and ethical. Students often study academic subjects in isolation; but the learning hub offers an opportunity to engage in creative cross disciplinary thinking. Once a year the students are split into cross key stage groups and are given a challenge to design a learning experience for their peers based on a series of prompts their team will receive. The group leaders choose at random a topic/concept from the humanities and from the sciences along with cultural artefacts, objects and spices. They must then forge connections between these and showcase their learning through a creative audiovisual medium or drama/performance. Students learn to think outside the box through this experience and build respect for others ideas and the collaborative thinking process.
Fostering leadership skills among students through sports. The KS3 sports program is designed in a manner to enable students to develop leadership skills, as well as fostering an inclusive mindset towards others both on and off the field. Each week, two students are chosen to lead the sports session of the following week, based upon their attitude and how much they have grown from the previous session. The students organise drills where students work in smaller groups to ensure high levels of engagement and energy, as well as designing innovative games that ensure everyone starts on a level platform. There is a strong focus on facilitated reflection to ensure that students build self awareness and begin to appreciate each other's unique talents.
Respect of self and others, independent of gender. This is an evening which takes place once a year where the students of Key Stage 3 come to school in formal wear for an evening of dancing and enjoyment. Beyond letting the students let their hair down, this process serves a much broader purpose – helping both guys and girls to appreciate and respect the opposite sex in a mature and empathetic manner. In many respects this is a coming of age event where the students get to see each other in a new light and learn the value of chivalry and courtesy. In the lead up to the event there is an emphasis on understanding each other, practising dance steps together and learning the importance of a genuine compliment.
Learning is not an entitlement but an opportunity to cultivate a respectful mind. Students have the opportunity in 9th grade to experience a completely different kind of life during a stay in Kaaach in Western Gujarat. It is very easy for city students to be dismissive of rural communities and thus the purpose of this exposure is to help them understand the importance of diversity and the huge amount of value these villagers have to offer. The students get to try out many of the local arts and traditions, and have expert sessions with some of the prominent craftsmen in the region. Most importantly though, they live a life free from technology and home comforts and this not only helps them immerse themselves in the experience but also allows the group to bond.
Typically, a 'buddy' is considered to be a friend who knows us well, accepts us as we are and is fun to hang out with. A buddy is also someone we like to do things, explore and pair up with. Through this relationship, we learn about each other, about ourselves and about life. Buddy interactions create real life/family like scenarios of interaction between children of different age groups, similar to siblings but without the rivalry.
Celebrating every graduate: a Citizen Leader The riverside experience is a journey for all the students who attend the school, and this culminates in a graduation program at the end of 12th Grade. The focus on doing good and doing well is made visible in the two valedictorians who are chosen by the class to address their peers, parents and teachers and throughout there is celebration of the diverse identities of each student within the class. From designing an elegant venue and classy entrance, providing some great band and dance entertainment and creating multimedia which illuminates the value of each student, the juniors in Grade 11 organising the event ensure the day lives long in the memory and provides a fitting finale to their seniors time at school.
School: a safe haven for friendships, learning and celebrations. Riverside is unique in the connection that the students feel with the school and one of the ways that this is fostered is making sure that the school campus is a place they always feel welcome. In Key Stage 3 students have the opportunity to spend the night at the school campus with their classmates and their teachers. The time they spend on campus cooking together, playing games and engaging in team building activities helps them to further bond as a class. School is then seen as a safe place that values their whole identity, not just their academic results, and the students also develop much stronger and more genuine relationships with their teachers through the informal interactions and time spent together on night outs
Being the change, changes the being. While there has been a focus on citizenship throughout the earlier years at Riverside, the focus shifts in KS3 to developing leadership and perseverance for social causes. There are a variety of initiatives for the students to choose from (bringing smiles to terminally ill children with cancer or teaching municipal school children). Their seniors make sure they have a genuine passion towards the initiative students chose to join. The students organize and lead these sessions themselves every week and engage in weekly reflections to ensure they are doing right by the people they are working for. The student CEO of each initiative is also part of a board that meets thrice yearly with experts in the field to resolve problems and guarantee accountability.
Cultivating a global mindset because Geography is history. Learning about other cultures and other countries is central to broadening the mindset of adolescents and thus the students in KS3 have the opportunity to participate in exchange programs with schools from all over the world. In previous years students have had the chance to host and visit students from California, Singapore, Bhutan and Sweden. Each of the schools that Riverside aligns itself with has something to offer as regards curriculum or outlook and through team building activities, project work and academics the students can learn much about the diversity of other students around the globe. The students hone presentation, cross-cultural communication and teamwork skills through this process and develop a much wider perspective on the world.
We understand better that which is visible, tangible, and experienced. The complex world of learning becomes simpler for the layperson - the parent - through the process of making learning visible. When their children's learning and progress becomes visible and accessible (through sample work), parents gain a more qualitative understanding of the learning as opposed to a quantitative numeral or grade. That understanding helps parents support their children better during the school years. They begin to see the child as a more holistic individual with special strengths and a few areas that require reinforcement.