At Giddens School, multi-grade classes provide elementary students an opportunity to engage in a two-year cycle of learning and growing. This model is responsive to individual students’ developmental trajectories, embracing the idea that children grow and change at different rates, with different strengths and challenges. At each grade band (K/1, 2/3, 4/5) students have the opportunity to experience new challenges and familiar contexts, supporting their overall growth and development.
Academic excellence and learning in enhanced in the multi-grade classroom through intellectual diversity and connection. Learning is differentiated, and varied, providing students with opportunities to engage with peers who share their skill profile, and to collaborate across a wide range of skill levels. Teachers are able to adjust their instruction in response to a child’s abilities, promoting a culture focused on learning, not just achievement.
Social and emotional development opportunities in a multi-grade classroom far exceed those available in the traditional grade level model. Children have a broader range of peers to form relationships with, supporting their skills in friendship, collaboration, and problem solving. With this greater level of difference comes a greater capacity for empathy development.
Social justice perspectives are deepened through multi-grade classrooms as well. All students have the opportunity to sometimes be a leader, to sometimes follow, to sometimes be experienced, and to sometimes be new. This pattern of interaction supports the children as they develop a true understanding of other people’s experiences. The ability to put themselves in another’s shoes in nurtured through ongoing awareness of what it was like to venture into an unknown grade band, and by the experience of becoming a grade band veteran.