Via Vita Academy utilizes the advantages of multigrade teaching to further enhance the educational experience. We believe in, and can attest to, the valuable benefits of a blended classroom. We believe, among many of the positives listed below, that it is simply a better way to learn, and a more realistic and applicable way to learn. Equipped with plenty of training, experience, and support, our teachers work to bring out the benefits of multigrade teaching every day.
A multigrade classroom simply means that there is more than one grade in the room, working independently or together, with each student working towards their individual curriculum goals for their grade level. They are learning simultaneously, both together and apart. It sounds trickier than it really is. Curriculum at each grade level, in some areas, is relative and sequential, therefore allowing a process of basic to advanced skills to take form easily. In other areas of the curriculum, the topics differ, however, each topic in itself is relative under an overarching theme. Our integration of theme-styled learning helps to blend these differences and find similarities and purpose to learning them. The teacher's role is to guide and engage each student in the area of their grade level curriculum, while encouraging them to share information and work together. Questioning, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and listening are key contributors to making this learning environment work.
Below are some of the many advantages we have experienced through teaching and learning in a multigrade classroom:
Reduced Competition & Off-task Behaviour: Academic, physical and social competition between peers is reduced, as is the anxiety and preoccupation of having to compete and compare one's self to their peers. Consequently, discipline measures are needed less frequently and individual differences are celebrated. The learning and social atmosphere is cooperative rather than competitive. Students receive more intentional training to be independent workers, leaders, and work as a team. Off-task behaviours diminish as self-discipline and onus increase.
Celebrated Individuality: Multigrade classrooms are less homogenous than single-grade classrooms, therefore differences are the norm and more easily accepted -celebrated even. Children who are academically advanced or lagging in any particular subject area can easily take part in higher or lower level skills, showcasing their strengths and working on their challenges, all while still maintaining interactions with their peers.
Re-Teaching & Pre-Teaching: Students are continuously exposed to re-teaching, as they listen in on, and benefit from, lessons being given to younger students. This review of the basics reinforces and clarifies a child’s understanding, even when they may be working at a more advanced level. Students are also exposed to pre-teaching (“eavesdropping” on teacher’s lessons and discussions with older students). This both prepares and stimulates the younger child’s thinking. It both prepares and stimulates the younger child’s thinking and reduces pressures associated with moving onto higher grades.
Role Modelling & Mentorship: The teacher plays a key role in modelling and intentionally teaching these skills, but in a multigrade classroom, many models are available for younger students. Older students model pro-social behaviours and expectations. They have opportunities to genuinely help younger students learn. Their teaching helps them clarify their own learning. The cognitive development and self-esteem of both younger and older students are improved.
Strong Teacher-Student Relationship: Lengthier time with the same teacher can increase trust, understanding of expectations, and positive relationships between teacher and students, as well as, teacher and parents. Teachers continue to build upon their knowledge of each child’s interests, strengths and needs over the multiple years they teach a child. The stability of having the same teacher for a number of years can increase a student's emotional security and trust in adults.
Increased Learning Time: Students and Teachers can pick up where they left off, rather than starting fresh with new routines and expectations. Effective learning time in the first term increases when children return to the same teacher in September.
We support the wonderful information about multigrade teaching found here.
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