January 14, 2019

Dear Campus School Families,

I was recently in one of our classrooms observing a math lesson and was very impressed by the quality of thinking on display from our students. The teacher was challenging students to think deeply about mathematical patterns, and this required students to use both critical and creative thinking – at whose intersection the truly challenging mathematical problems are met and explored.

What was particularly interesting to watch was how students struggled with some of the concepts and understandings. This struggle was not a bad thing; in fact, learning is sometimes difficult, as students are asked to stretch beyond what they know and are comfortable with. They have to take risks and show resilience to reach that powerful “aha” moment when things suddenly make sense.

I would, therefore, equate problems that challenge students to the point of struggle as being a demonstration of good thinking – and good teaching. The skilled teacher knows how to helps student navigate turbulent intellectual waters – this is as much a cognitive exercise as an emotional one, as the link between good thinking and good feeling is especially strong in children. Students learn more when they are stretched and not stressed, and the key differentiator between these two states is when students feel both supported and challenged by a teacher who believes in them and their abilities to persevere and gain understanding - and this is one of the hallmarks of the student-teacher relationship at the Campus School.