Pedagogy and Practice

Micah Dov Gottlieb
Dear High School Families,
We have been in school for more than a month, and things feel like they are moving really quickly. We’ve already had both Curriculum Nights, two grades have had their potlucks, the Jewish holidays have passed, and we’ve had a long weekend. Sitting in our Professional Day workshop this past Friday, I was inspired to write this push page. As a Progressive school, we talk a lot about being life-long learners. How is this developed? It is through experiences working with an active and engaged faculty, who model living the life of the mind, who are dedicated to learning with their students, and who show that we all have something to offer and something to learn.
Allison Isbell, HS Academic Dean, shared a list of eleven Progressive Pedagogies that we discussed as a high school faculty - this is below for your reference. In that classroom with my colleagues, discussing Progressive Pedagogy and how that informs our teaching practice, life-long learning came alive. This dynamic group of caring educators was fully invested in living our mission and thought critically about their practice and the learning of their students.
Our Progressive Pedagogy:
- Knowledge comes from experience and not from authority
- Learning is a social process
- Learning happens through meaningful work
- Learning happens by engaging in sense-making activities
- Learning is the process of building toward mastery
- Learning is active and experiential
- Learning is inquiry-based
- Learning should work towards Social Justice
- Learning is shared authority in the classroom with teachers working as facilitators of knowledge
- Learning should ultimately move the learner towards agency and independence
- Learning should cultivate students ready to be active citizens in our democratic society
We engaged in an activity that asked us to categorize the practices common in the high school, and identify which pedagogy informed each of those practices? What was their purpose? How do they challenge our students? Where do we need to keep working, and what will shape those efforts?
In the second half of our day, high school teachers shared with each other a series of demo lessons that showcased some best practices. It was teachers being students, engaging in thoughtful discussion and learning from each other – practicing what we ask our students to do.
Yesterday, while the 10th and 11th graders were taking the PSAT’s, the 9th grade participated in a Day of Service. They broke up into two groups and volunteered at two NYC Parks, one in Staten Island and the other in the Bronx. Learning doesn’t always happen in the classroom, and some lessons are not part of the regular daily program. By engaging in meaningful work that was active and experiential, and cultivated their citizenship in our democratic society, our students learned that it takes all of our efforts to make this the kind of world we want to live in. 
I received this lovely message from the Volunteer Projects Manager at Partnership for Parks, “Thank you so much for supporting our parks this morning. Both groups did an incredible job and Kelly, myself and the parks staff were very much impressed with the work ethic of the students and the teachers. The groups accomplished a great deal. In Staten Island, the group pulled and pruned an equivalent of about 200 bags of debris. The Director of Horticulture in Staten Island said that the group "Blew it out of the Park" (a very appropriate statement!). The Bronx group painted 28 benches!”
I am proud of the work that happens at LREI every day, and honored to share some of it with you!