Hello everyone!

One of my favorite parts of being an educator is collaborating with other educators to constantly investigate, iterate, and refine what we are doing to ensure that we are delivering the best education possible to all of our students. As a classroom teacher, I relished the opportunities to work with fellow teachers on projects across disciplines or grade levels. Some of my favorite moments from my early teaching career come from those times – whether it was working with the theater teacher to support kids develop monologues about their lives in the voice of a character from the book we were reading in 9th grade English or working with the math teacher to develop a fantasy baseball league using current season statistics, I found that coming together to make meaning always made for better teaching.

One of our goals at Compositive Primary is not only to create an optimal educational environment for our students but also to share our work with other educators. Because we believe that our inquiry-based, student-driven model is the best way to educate the whole child, we love sharing our work with the outside community, including families, supporters of the school, and other educators. 

Documentation is a key component of our model. Each student’s individualized digital portfolio paints a rich picture of their passions and progress as they dive deep into their learning. This provides families with a much deeper understanding of their children’s growth than a checklist or graded report card. More importantly, the students are actively involved in curating their portfolios, allowing them to review their work over the course of each arc and recognize their growth and challenges. The more we can get our students to think and talk about their thinking, the better.

Our teachers also take the time to put documentation up on the walls of the classrooms and in our hallways. This usually includes pictures of students in action, student work, and narratives that explain learning objectives and student engagement. This documentation emphasizes to our students that real learning is happening, and it allows visitors to have a fuller understanding of what we are doing each day

Speaking of visitors, we have been excited to welcome educators from around the state to visit our school and learn more about what we are doing. In August, we hosted a workshop called “Stories of Change.” Around 45 teachers from various schools in the area came together to share their own stories and to explore how to help our students explore who they are and tell their own stories. The day was filled with lively conversation, beautiful artwork, and personal connection. 

We’ve also slowly begun welcoming visitors to tour the school so they can see the model in action. Teachers and administrators from Colorado Rocky Mountain School, Graland Country Day School, Aspen Academy, Montessori Children’s House, and International School of Denver have visited, and the main comment I hear to a person is around student engagement. They note that when they first step into the classroom, it takes a moment to see where the teachers are because students are spread out in different areas, busily working away, and teachers are sitting alongside them, asking questions and encouraging them to dig deeper. I absolutely love getting to show off the fantastic work that our teachers are doing and the prep work I know they do in advance each day to provide the richest environment possible. Some of our visitors have requested to bring their teaching teams in to observe, so we’re hoping to do that later this year.

Finally, we love sharing our work even farther afield, with educators in Colorado and nationally. Clare has led workshops on picture books and objects for the Denver Early Childhood Council, and it’s been such a success that they have asked him to present again. Two years ago, Meaghan, Amira and I traveled to Philadelphia to present on inquiry-based learning at the National Association of Independent Schools conference. Last year, Clare and I led an online session at that same conference, and we’ve just been asked to present again at the upcoming conference in March. Clare and Meaghan are sharing their work this fall with the National Conference for Teachers of English and we’re looking forward to hosting more workshops in our building next year. 

Getting the chance to share our work makes me appreciate even more what amazing work our teachers do and how well they know our students. I also love hearing about what other educators and schools are doing and learning from them. I truly believe that by sharing with and listening to each other, we all become stronger in our common goal of doing what is best for kids.