INSIGHTS is an ongoing series of blog posts published by members of the PBS faculty, providing a lens into how the PBS faculty thinks about curriculum development, teaching and learning, professional development, and other topics central to executing the school’s mission every day. In this multi-part series of INSIGHTS articles, PBS faculty will share updates on important school-wide initiatives, including the annual Curriculum Deep Dive and Phillips Brooks Summer Institute projects.
What is Ready? Set… Go! and how has it been rolled out at PBS?
Last fall, we launched this program with the primary goal of better preparing our graduates for academic and social life beyond PBS. This was a program designed to help address elements of preparedness that may not have already naturally been a part of a PBS student’s experience. We hope that, over time, this program will keep PBS families from feeling pressured to seek outside resources to assist students with middle school readiness.
As students experience this program – starting and growing in 3rd grade and continuing through 5th grade and the middle school application process – they will be prepared to take on the challenges that await them in middle school and beyond. Here are the specific goals we enumerated when we launched the program last year:
- Expand student skills in standardized test-taking so they are equipped to perform confidently and to their potential
- Expose students to a wide range of challenges that will exercise their ability to purposefully plan, organize, execute, and manage time effectively
- Build students’ interview toolbox, including how to share their stories and maintaining awareness of their experience during a middle school shadow visit
- Empower students to approach unfamiliar and challenging content and take academic risks with confidence
How are we continuing to set PBS students up for success in middle school and beyond?
As we move into the second year of this program, we have learned from our experiences and received great feedback from families and students. From better preparation on what to expect during standardized tests to opportunities to build confidence and comfort in working with a variety of different educators, our students are developing resilience in the face of new and rigorous challenges.
In 4th grade, the PBS students start to experience a departmentalized teaching model. They learn to adapt to different expectations of teachers and build knowledge from a variety of teaching styles. All of this is mindful and consistent with PBS’s teaching philosophy. By 5th grade, students begin to move between the classroom spaces and continue to develop their independence and self-advocacy skills. With the support and guidance of their three core teachers and the specialist subject teachers, they learn to embrace an increased workload and navigate the middle school process.
We have found that one added benefit of this model is that as our lead teachers take charge of a content area, they have more time for focused planning that allows for greater rigor, challenge, and differentiation. All students still have a homeroom teacher to anchor their day and are given opportunities in the schedule to conference with their various teachers to help support them in any content area.
What additional skills is this program providing for our PBS graduates?
- PBS graduates feel empowered going into middle school, having already experienced having different teachers for their various core curriculum areas.
- PBS graduates are more independent, as they have been given opportunities to take ownership and responsibility for their learning through experiences in study hall, advocating needs or questions to teachers via email regarding homework, or managing the scaffolding involved in completing long-term projects.
- PBS graduates are resilient, as they face new challenges with flexibility and confidence.
Carrying this program into its second year at PBS, we are excited to continue expanding how we best lay the foundation for our students’ continued success as their experiences here act as a launchpad into the next chapters of their academic and social lives. As our students, parents, and teachers continue with Ready? Set... Go!, we welcome feedback and thoughts to help us grow, refine, and develop this program to even higher levels!
Jimmy Gerrity is a 5th-grade Lead Teacher at PBS. He came to the school in 2016 as an associate teacher and became a lead teacher in 2018. Jimmy’s favorite thing about PBS is the amazing community of dedicated staff that are welcoming and fun to be around. In addition to being a talented educator, Jimmy is a traveler, a backpacker, and a skier who enjoys spending quality time with his family and friends.