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  • Writer's pictureTrey Adams

Standing out from the crowd

Teachers are masters of efficiency. On Friday, I observed second grade, a guest of Mrs. Leslie Sawyer P'24,'26 and her twelve eager learners. In a little more than an hour, I witnessed morning work, announcements, recitation of class rules (with hand and body gestures), interactive read aloud (with social-emotional lessons), word study test (three different levels/groups), independent reading in current events, reading comprehension assessment, and a science-prompt writing workshop. Each instructional activity had a transition point and moved almost seamlessly into the next. Students maintained their momentum, attention, and enthusiasm throughout the morning.

"You will hear the word study test divided into three color groups, dependent upon the student's individual level," shared Mrs. Sawyer. "And, no two students in the same color group are sitting beside one another in the classroom." In her sentinel work, Classroom Management for Elementary Teachers, Dr. Carolyn Evertson, professor emeritus from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University, emphasized several key points in successful classroom management, including thorough planning of instruction, arranging physical space, managing special groups, and creating effective communication (Evertson, 1994). Mrs. Sawyer's classroom is a textbook example of best practices in classroom management.

Class size and student-to-teacher ratios are often pointed to as keys to a successful educational experience; however, research also indicates that an important factor is how the educator utilizes the smaller class sizes (Ehrenberg, 2001). Independent schools like Southampton Academy are committed to an individualized experience where students can learn and grow in a supportive family environment. Academy teachers are empowered to utilize the intimate nature of our setting to develop a strong understanding of each student. This knowledge impacts planning, instruction, and measurable outcomes.

While the journey of understanding begins in early childhood and the lower school, middle and upper school teachers balance individual student needs with the new independence and autonomy developing through adolescence. Students are encouraged to self-advocate and communicate. Goal-setting through the advisory program and college counseling process provides targets and purpose for the work. "I try to listen to each student to hear who they are," shared math teacher and Director of College Counseling Susan Everett P'25,'27,'34. "I think that's how we stand out as a school. All of our teachers want to get to know each student and family individually."

Finally, here are some items to consider:

  • Regarding preschool and lower school, picture day is tomorrow, Tuesday, September 27. In addition to individual photos, students will also participate in a class photo.

  • Regarding middle and upper school, picture day is Wednesday, September 28. Click here for the schedule from Mrs. Strozier.

  • Regarding whole school, Friday, October 7 is our second Parent-Teacher Conference Day. Teachers and advisors will be reaching out to schedule. No classes convene on this date or on the following Monday, October 10 for a Fall Break weekend.

Speaking of "standing out from the crowd," take a look at our annual all-school photo.

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