Supporting Excellence: Instructional Practices That Meet the Standards
Brighton Excellence: What makes Brighton, Brighton?
Brighton's tradition of excellence is based on the belief that all students have a right to a rigorous education which prepares them for the challenges of being a contributing member of a global community. To that end, excellence is not defined as minimally meeting the New York State standards but rather, is defined by the staff and community at large and encompasses far more than the demands outlined within those documents. In addition to the standards, there is an expectation that creativity will be fostered, opportunities for problem solving and critical thinking will be embedded into all of the work that's accomplished and that the entrepreneurial spirit that currently exists in Brighton will lead to innovation among staff, students, and community in meeting these challenges.
How does Brighton define excellence in the 21st Century?
Creativity is fostered.
Creativity is a multifaceted phenomenon that transcends all types of learners. It involves generating new or unique possibilities, ideas or innovations through viewing things in new ways or from different perspectives.
The creative process is guided by a purpose and/or functionality. Creativity encourages students to explore and develop their unique talents. Flexibility, tolerance for ambiguity, comfort with uncertainty and willingness to take risks are attributes of a creative thinker. It is nurtured by teachers who facilitate learning through opportunities that require expression and cultivation of ideas in unique, authentic or unrehearsed situations and give students the necessary time.
- KIVA project
- Wonder centers
- Math Create
Problem solving skills are developed.
Problem solving involves using cognitive processes to find solutions where they are not immediately evident. A typical problem solving process includes:
- defining of the problem
- determining of the knowledge, resources, steps necessary to solve the problem
- implementing the plan
- monitoring and refining the progress
- evaluating and reflecting on the solution
Good problem solvers are flexible, persistent, organized, open-minded, and effective communicators. They also value accuracy and clarity.
- "I wonder" research projects
- Persuasive essays in ELA/Science
Opportunities for critical thinking are provided.
A process that involves the integration and use of skills and dispositions to reach reasoned decisions, actions and /or solutions. The critical thinker:
- Raises vital questions and identifies problems
- Gathers and assesses relevant information and interprets that information effectively to reach well-reasoned conclusions and solutions. Tests those against relevant criteria
- Considers others’ perspectives, assumptions, implications and practical consequences
- Communicates clearly and effectively
The critical thinker also embraces open-mindedness, fair-mindedness, self-direction, clarity and perseverance.
- Investigations math resources
- Jr. Research project
- River City
Learning is meaningful and relevant.
In Staff and Community:
There are high expectations for staff.
There is a sense of cohesion and global responsibility within the district and among the community at large.
Definition of "global citizenship":
Global citizens that graduate from the BCSD:
- are appreciative of other people and tolerant of their perspectives
- value cultural diversity
- acknowledge our responsibility to each other and the environment
- seek to make a difference locally and globally
- act with respect towards all and demonstrate both humility and empathy
- are critical thinkers willing to engage in respectful and divergent dialogue.
Our global citizens act to make the world better in many ways.
- Interfaith conference
- Comparative Religions class
- Diversity unit
Barriers to Universal Practice
- Barriers/complacency are self-imposed (i.e. mindsets)
- Time constraints-interdisciplinary planning requires buy-in and takes time.
- National and New York State mandates.
- Teachers less likely to take risks with state testing looming.
- Paperwork, record keeping, endless meetings--administrivia.
- PD on best practices.
- Looping-difficult to become an expert in any one grade level.
- Physical structure of building--lack of space
- Primary/elementary teachers need to be specialists in all areas
- Content specific curricula does not always cross over to other disciplines
- Students do not have time to take advantage of extra courses (limited time during the day/year)
- Management of creating an environment where kids can experiment and take risks.
- Manpower to organize
- Current focus on facts about different cultures.
- Ongoing assumptions: Everyone has tremendous opportunities.