What We Mean When We Say ‘Progressive’

by Principal Jane

This brief explanation was written to help families understand why we take a ‘progressive’ stand in our classrooms and what we do differently to support all learners to develop confidence, competence and curiosity.

When we say “progressive’ at The Locke School of Arts and Engineering, we mean that we have a specific ideology that drives the way we think about programming and learning experiences for students and social relationships in school.

At the Locke School, we take children and the work of childhood seriously. At the heart of defining our school as ‘progressive’ is our commitment to educating the whole child. This means that we care about helping children to become good people as well as good learners. As we set policies, select curricula, and plan daily schedules and special events, we consider the impact on ‘soft skills’ and character development as well as academics.

At the Locke School, we believe that all learning rides on relationships. We start each day in every classroom with a morning meeting. Morning meetings are structured as a social time in which we come to know and support each other as a class community. Many of the adults in this community choose to be addressed by our first names. This helps to message our commitment to engaging as learners in the community as well as teachers, and to signal our invitation to children and families to come to know us as people as well as teachers.

Our students learn to make choices and actively pursue learning through a focus on shared values and collaboration. Social responsibility is explicitly taught, and opportunities to practice are a part of the curriculum. We define social responsibilities through our four ‘B’s, (Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Ready, Be Present). We gather as a larger community to celebrate accomplishments and set goals related to our four ‘B’s in monthly rallies. Students take on leadership roles in the school as Students of the Month, through the Locke Leaders program, the Green Team, and Principal’s Advisory Council. Students are actively encouraged to contribute to policies and decisions that impact their daily lives in school.

Developing student voice and choice is an important part of the work we do at The Locke School. Our core curricula for math, reading, and writing provides opportunities for students to make decisions and choices. Students select reading materials of interest from curated classroom libraries, learn a variety of writing styles by writing on topics of their choice and work collaboratively with peers to practice standards-based math skills and strategies at ‘just right’ learning levels based on careful teacher assessments.

We extend these opportunities for voice and choice further with weekly project-based learning where we apply and extend ideas. Engaging in projects in grades K-5 allows us to facilitate deep understandings for students, who actively construct understandings rather than passively absorb information.

Every day in grades PK-2 students engage in ‘centers’ or ‘work choice’ where they engage in play-based activities driven by interest. Students in grades 3-5 participate in clubs activities in an extended weekly period.

At The Locke School, we know that finding yourself and your role in the community is an essential element of getting an education at every age. We consider the needs of all children and families and structure the day to accommodate the many ways humans learn and express that learning. Every student participates in visual arts, dance, yoga, vocal music, piano, and engineering and maker as part of the weekly ‘specials’ offerings. Many formats for family participation are interwoven in the school day and extended into evening hours because we know that a dynamic home-school connection is a powerful foundation for creating and sustaining life-long learning.

FAQ’s

Why don’t we use pencils?

In the lower grades we use “Flair” pens with a felt tip. In 3-5 we use pens. We use pencils sparingly, and for special purposes only. Here’s why: A few years ago we noticed that children were spending as much time erasing their work as getting their thoughts on the page. Even worse, once the work was erased, we were often unable to determine the thinking behind the work that remained. We switched to ink because it helps us to support student learning by eliminating the erasures helping students to focus on the process rather than the answers in their work.

We understand that for adults that grew up using pencils in schools that this can be jarring. The most frequent complaint from families is ink stains on clothing. We work with students in school to use the ink pens responsibly and encourage families to do the same at home.

What is ‘invented spelling” and why is it encouraged?

Invented spelling allows children to express their ideas in writing by using what they know about letters and sounds. Throughout the elementary school years, children’s thinking often far surpasses their ability to use conventional spelling to convey it. Just as we encourage young toddlers to approximate language as they are learning to speak, we encourage young students to approximate when they write.

Spelling is not just about memorizing the order of letters, it’s about figuring out how our complicated language system works. As children pass through developmental phases, they are able to approximate and represent words with increasing sophistication, noticing and using more patterns and incorporating rules. We teach spelling through our Fundations program, which familiarizes children with language patterns for spelling and teaches ‘trick words’ that follow typical language patterns.

Why do students address so many faculty by their first name?

Many adults in our school invite families and children to address us by our first names. This is related to our philosophy that we are all participating as learners in school. It’s also an important part of our belief that relationships drive all learning. As the school leader, I need to be fully present, to bring my full self to school every day. When children address me by my given name, it’s a reminder that I am accountable as a person, not just as an educator, for my interactions and relationships in school.

Why doesn’t my child have homework every day?

Every K-5 student has reading homework every day. The time for reading varies based on the grade. Additionally there is a reading log to be completed by either the student or the adult helper at home. In addition, your child will have a math game that they have been assigned based on the skills and strategies he or she is developing. Please see THE LOCKE SCHOOL HOMEWORK POLICY on the website for the full explanation.

Does my child have to wear the school uniform everyday?

Yes, uniforms are required Monday through Friday. We do have some ‘spirit’ days where students are invited to wear special clothes related to the theme for the day.

How do I contact my child’s teacher?

  1. Tuesday from 2:40 - 3:10 are set aside for family meetings. Families are invited to drop in or make an appointment with any teacher for that time.
  2. Fill out a Parent Concern Form in the main office and address it to the teacher.
  3. Email- Teacherfirstname.Teacherlastname@Lockearts.org

example: jane.murphy@lockearts.org

4. Join the Class Dojo class community- you can message the teacher directly through Class Dojo

How do I find out about special events?

We are going for zero waste this year! Help us to do our part to save the planet by cutting down on the amount of paper we send home. Here’s how you can find out ‘what’s up’ with electronic resources:

  • Events are on the calendar in the website- Lockearts.org
  • Download the Locke School AP
  • Join the Locke School Facebook page
  • Follow us on twitter and instagram- Lockeschoolnyc