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The Thriveway – To the summit.

At Skye College your child will thrive as they develop their full potential

People who thrive taste the sweet reward of using their gifts and becoming good at what they do.  They know what they want from life and intentionally set and pursue the goals that will take them, step by step, toward their personal summit.   

Self-paced learning paths and mastery

The one-size-fits-all education offered by most schools do not allow children to learn at their own pace or pursue their own passions.  Such schools stunt a child’s academic development and eventual success. 

When learners move through the curriculum according to an inflexible plan at the average speed of the class, some students develop learning gaps – moving on before they are ready.  Others are “held back” unnecessarily – bored and disengaged. 

At Skye College children progress at their own pace through a Montessori-inspired math and English curriculum.  This self-paced curriculum sets your child up for success at high school math and English by allowing the time and focus needed to develop deep mastery of each step in their learning journey.  

Does that mean children progress more slowly in our classrooms?  On the contrary…  When children are given the tools for independent practice and immediate feedback, along with the freedom to spend the time they need to develop deep mastery and move on when they are ready, they tend to progress more quickly.

Guiding a child towards the development of their full potential is about more than just self-paced learning and mastery, however. 

Growth mindset and high expectations

Good teaching holds high expectations of every child and nurtures a growth mindset.  People with a growth mindset believe (accurately so) that abilities can be developed through hard work and dedication.  Talents and brains are just a starting point. 

It shouldn’t be surprising that the beliefs we hold about learning impact what we do in the classroom.  When teachers hold high expectations, and believe that learning takes time and that all students can learn when provided with the right support, they choose better strategies and persist with struggling students.  When teachers have high expectations and a growth mindset, students are more likely to achieve at high levels.  The same is true for kids.  When a child believes that the effort of doing math is building their brain, regardless of whether they got the answer right this time, they are more likely to persist and master the content. 

When it comes to underlying attitudes and mindsets of teachers and children, it is clear that all are not equally accurate or helpful.  That’s why our Professional Development pays attention to developing the mindsets and attitudes that will equip your child to thrive.  Oh, and by the way, a growth mindset is also promoted by the kind of mastery-based instructional practices you’ll find in our classrooms.[i]

Internal motivation, autonomy and interest

Good teaching further equips your child to develop their full potential by unlocking the power of internal motivation.  External motivation and coercion won’t take your child to their summit …  Learning is optimised when internal motivation is unlocked through appropriate autonomy and by making room for the child’s own interests and talents. 

Children experience a sense of autonomy when they engage in tasks that reflect their personal values and a sense of themselves.  Children do not experience autonomy when they participate in tasks because “the teacher said so.” 

Research links such autonomy to gains in comprehension and higher order learning.  When students are overly controlled, on the other hand, they lose initiative and learn less well, especially when learning is complex and requires conceptual creative processing.[ii] 

At Skye College our teachers provide autonomy supportive instruction and practices (such as helping children figure out how to solve a problem in their own way) and emphasizes self-direction and the pursuit of interests, rather than rewards, punishments or coercion.   

Such an approach is made possible by Skye College’s flexible Cambridge-based curriculum and our innovative approach to Professional Development.  At Skye College, teachers participate in regular professional development sessions.  This learning exposes them to evidence-based strategies for teaching and learning.  Equipped with this information, teachers co-create flexible lessons that are designed to work towards Cambridge curriculum outcomes, develop skills that will equip your child to thrive, and optimize motivation and autonomy by being responsive to the needs and interests of the class.  This is vastly different from traditional cookie-cutter education systems where these vital keys to unlocking potential are largely ignored.

Self-paced learning leads to deep mastery and optimises engagement 

Children work towards mastery (rather than completion) which eliminates learning gaps.  At the same time, they can progress as soon as mastery is achieved – no superficial limit is placed on learning… the classroom and teacher are prepared for anything.  Working at one’s own pace means children work at a “just right” level of difficulty.  Things are neither too easy (boredom) nor too hard (frustration) – they are just right (engagement).

Internal motivation is maximised through personalised learning and appropriate classroom autonomy 

At Skye college children enjoy freedom and support to pursue their interests and develop their unique talents at school.  Internal motivation is maximised through appropriate classroom autonomy.   The interested, motivated child working at an engaging level of difficulty.

Growth mindset 

A growth mindset refers to the belief, supported by insights from neuroscience, that intelligence is not fixed, but can be developed.  When children have a growth mindset they do not view failure as fatal (I’m just stupid), but see it as a step in the learning process (I can’t do that yet, but I’m sure I could).  At Skye College our teacher culture and practices encourage the development of growth mindsets in students.  After all, the road to the summit is steep.  To reach his full potential your child will have to become practiced at getting up and dusting himself off.  Because the right attitude to failure predicts success. 

[1]  Yeager and Dweck, 2012; Blackwell et al, 2007; Yeager, Schneider, Brien and Flint, 2016 in Visible Learning Guide to Student Achievement (Hatti, 2020).

[11] Ryan and Deci (2000). 

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