kitchen table math, the sequel: The Windward School on "self-determination" and direct instruction

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Windward School on "self-determination" and direct instruction

My copy of The Beacon, The Windward School's newsletter, arrived today. Here's what the heads of school have to say on the subject of grit, resilience, self-determination theory, and the like:
Autonomy in the classroom does not necessarily mean students roaming at will between workstations, working in groups, and self-directing their own learning. Autonomy, more essentially, is seen in the student who attends to her work with a personally chosen sense of purpose and self-agency. (In this context, we refer to agency as the power taken by an individual to make "decisions regarding their preferences and actions.") Although not obvious, the direct instruction methodology that guides the Windward classroom is fundamental to the development of autonomous learners.

Every direct instruction lesson begins with three elements:

  • the presentation of an aim for the lesson;
  • the review of prior lessons, clarifying how the current instruction connects to knowledge and skills already learned; and
  • a motivation that gives students an anticipation and incentive for the day's lesson.

By ensuring that every lesson has a purpose, builds upon prior knowledge, and engages the motivation of the students, teachers invoke a volitional engagement of students with the curriculum. Students attend to their work and stick to their work with grit, not as a result of fear or dread or the promise of extrinsic rewards, but because they discern and embrace the purpose of their learning.
The Windward School costs ... at least $40K/year, I think. Somewhere in there.

It's incredible, when you think about it.

The only children in Westchester County who can count on receiving direct instruction every day at school are kids who a) have a learning disability and b) have $40K to spend on tuition at The Windward School.


froggiemama said...

I am totally do not get what direct instruction is. That description just sounds like normal teaching. When we get evaluated, the observer always checks for those 3 points. And it seems, more or less, that this is what my kids teachers are doing. So what is different about direct instruction from just regular good planning?

Anonymous said...

Others please jump in . . . but a feature of the actual lesson, in Direct Instruction, is that the teacher always makes it a point to walk the students through new concepts rather than hoping that they will discover the concept through discussion, hands-on activities, etc. Not that there can't be discussion and activities, but they are built upon careful laying out of the new concept by the teacher.