The Anneliese Odyssey
THE PRACTICE OF SCHOLARSHIP
From the Spark of Inquiry to the Confidence of Mastery
TAO fosters lifelong learning during a time when many students become disengaged with school. We prepare students to enter High School learning environments with not only the academic curriculum they need, but also the executive functioning skills, passion, and curiosity to thrive in any school setting.
The Spirit of Scholarship
We recognize that all deep mastery begins with the spark of curiosity. At TAO, we foster a spirit of inquiry, deep engagement, and rich discourse. Using the Socratic Method, we guide students to delve into deep investigations of subjects, topics, and questions that stimulate their wonder and interest. We teach our students to be inquisitive and seek insight. We encourage them to make connections, help them to develop their critical thinking skills, and practice self-discipline and perseverance on the learning journey.
We believe scholarship becomes an energizing and richly satisfying process when students are given the freedom to explore, the opportunity to focus, and the guidance to investigate deeply. Through this process, curiosity and inquiry bloom into the confidence of mastery, whether that be mastery of a subject matter or a skill set.
TAO’s rigorous approach to academics is adaptive to student interests, passions, and skills with freedom for self-directed, inquiry-based, and creative learning. Embracing not only the multiple dimensions of intelligence, but also the shifting landscape of a young adult’s emotional and social well-being, TAO students have a multitude of pathways for expressing their understanding and demonstrating their learning.
Students receive high-quality instruction in a variety of content areas, all aligned with common core curriculum standards across multiple disciplines and grade levels. Courses are elective-based and offer a variety of choices for students to exercise their curiosities and strengths. Some courses are developed with grade-specific learning objectives, other courses are blended across grade levels based on interest.
Our academic program allows students to learn at a self-directed pace. A block schedule of 1.5 hour courses gives students and teachers the time for depth studies. Students can repeat courses to gain greater mastery of a subject, or jump into more complex subjects that match the level of challenge they seek.
A Tailored Academic Approach
A child’s age or grade level is not always an accurate measurement of their cognitive or social-emotional development. The blended classroom creates more cooperation and collaboration rather than competition. Students are embedded in perspective, maturity, and diversity of friendships when allowed to co-mingle with students of various ages. Patience, conflict management, and leadership are more authentically supported and practiced. We believe, as educational philosopher John Dewey did, that education should “guide people to use their diverse gifts and talents for productive, interactive lives in order to promote a progressive society that values freedom, individualism, and the overall betterment of society”. Multi-age classrooms more closely model the world we live in and help children experience democracy firsthand.
Below, we outline the keystones of successful mixed-age courses:
- Project/Inquiry-based learning: Assessment of projects and assignments are differentiated based on the age/skill level of the individual. Each student is assessed against the standards and objectives of that student’s grade level in addition to the goals and objectives of the course.
- Project and inquiry-based learning with Socratic methods are valued and utilized to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners.
- Courses are specialized & tailored to the intellectual hunger and curiosity of each student through various methods of observation, assessment, and student feedback.
- Allows for adaptability and flexibility to grow alongside other students and their interests over time.
Scholarship Free of Pressure
At TAO, we strive to create a learning atmosphere that is joyful. We focus on developing intrinsic-motivation that comes from the inherent pleasure of learning, rather than accomplishing for outer rewards. We do this in the following ways:
- TAO uses a wide variety of testing and performance evaluations to monitor students’ strengths and areas of challenge.
- Meaningful and timely feedback is given to support students in the metacognition of their own self-directed learning and how they can improve upon their own strengths in a variety of learning areas.
- Goal setting is developed throughout the trimester and frequently revised with TAO faculty and families to encourage the ongoing development of a student’s rounded learning experience.
- Portfolios and projects are presented frequently throughout each trimester for the TAO student body and parents to engage with the learning and progress of students within each course.
- Grading and assessment will continue to reflect the proficiency and mastery of learning, along with traditional grading scales and ongoing student-led conferencing.
Preparing Students for High School and Beyond
TAO students are not only recognized for their academic work but they are praised for their mature emotional intelligence. Our students are organized, articulate, and advocate for themselves – exactly what is needed to navigate the high school years and beyond.
- Continuous explicit instruction and support to develop executive functioning skills like time management and organization.
- A mindful and sensitive approach fosters a community of students that are better equipped to deal with pressure; Students are explicitly taught tools that mitigate stressors and learn how to better identify and address their pressures in healthy ways.
- Managing without micromanaging: Resilience, responsibility, and initiative are highly regarded and supported traits that TAO students will learn to harness and exhibit.
- The combination of differentiated instruction, rigorous academics, effective assessment, and student development will prepare TAO students for a variety of high school expectations and admissions.