In her article for GettingSmart.com, a website focused on innovation in education, Gabriella Rowe, Principal of The Village School in Houston, lists the qualities of what to look for in a great school. Gabriella is a third generation head of school with personal knowledge and experience in running great schools.
1. Choosing the right environment
Does your child’s school allow for growth outside test scores and grades? According to Rowe, it is important for schools to encourage resiliency in the face of defeat. Iterative learning in which a child fails, assesses the failures and tries again is exactly what children need to succeed. This means that the school you choose should encourage problem solving and the process of learning over test scores and outcomes. It is more important for students be motivated in their educational journey than simply memorising facts.
2. Evaluate student culture
Your child’s success in school will be heavily influenced by student culture. Ensuring that your child is free to grow and develop intellectually among peers who are equally capable and curious to learn will make the difference in your child’s learning experience. Peer influence is a powerful motivator, and students can realize their potential in schools filled with children who enjoy learning at a high level explains Rowe.
3. Do the school’s teachers motivate students to become passionate learners?
You may already know by now, but exceptional teachers can make all the difference in your child’s education. It is important that teachers can objectively assess students’ strengths and weaknesses and know a student’s personality and quirks, according to Rowe. The best teachers are able to motivate students to be curious learners and resilient in the face of failure. One can also evaluate the quality of teachers by how the school invests in their educators’ own professional development and learning. According to Rowe, the best teachers also have mentors and are proactive in the continuation of their own education.
4. Does the school let students engage in real world experiences?
Providing a quality education is half the battle for schools. Giving students opportunities to learn through real world experiences will strengthen the connection between what they are learning and the world in which they live. When students see the real purpose of their knowledge applied in the real world it strengthens their connection to their learning experience. According to Rowe, aptitude is not about test scores or grades, it is about how you apply what you have learned to real problems and meaningful outcomes. Two examples to see how schools excel at this is whether or not students have project-based learning. Project-based learning inspires and motivates students to work in an environment that shows them first-hand the impact that their intelligence can have on the world around them.