Our teaching philosophy centers on what we call the Fusion Model. We focus on fusing student learning with the real world together in a way that makes learning applicable, memorable and potent. Learning matters when it makes an enriching impact on life, society and the world.
We remember watching a student one year who struggled to memorize and organize in a way that would help him succeed in class. He struggled the whole year. We were perplexed that this same student, who loved theater, was able to memorize long scripts and perform these memorized materials regularly in front of large audiences. What made the difference? We had to figure it out to see if we could tap into that same effort and effectiveness that we saw from this student on the stage. We came up with the following principles that we strive to inject in as much of our classroom activities as possible:
- Create activities and assignments that relate and matter to the students’ lives. When the students see how a classroom activity benefits them they are more willing to put in that x-factor effort.
- Provide experience where students experience authentic feedback from peers and the community. Students respond to the cheering crowds or the audience applause in sports or performing art events. We strive to bring that spirit into academic pursuits by creating experiences where the students’ success is on display for their peers to cheer and not just in a classroom hand-in tray.
- Give meaningful deadlines to encourage thorough effort. In a school play the teacher cannot change the date of opening night if you’re not memorized. A basketball coach can’t postpone the game-winning free throw if an athlete doesn’t feel he or she has had enough time to practice. In these venues the deadline matters and a student must learn to make it happen or the opportunity is lost. In class we provide opportunities for students to perform. Students must be prepared or the opportunity will be lost.
- We have found that too many students learn to do only what the teacher requires for an A and then stop. We like to encourage our students to break the glass ceiling of simply earning a grade and strive to achieve beyond expectations. On the football field the champion is the one who puts in extra time for drills, conditioning, strength training and watching game film. We like to encourage our students to be academic champions by giving them encouragement and support to make their own assignments, apply what they’re learning in class to the their own lives, and create meaningful assignments meant to be shared and have a life outside the classroom.
With these principles guiding as much of our class activity as possible (it’s hard to make every assignment the perfect fulfillment of all these principles) we find we can best tap into students’ passions, get them excited about meaningful accomplishments and engage their x-factor effort which will help them be life-long learners and achievers.