One of the defining elements of our Primary Program is our Symbiotic Classroom, an elementary classroom teaching model that pairs a Subject Expert Teacher with a Learning Expert Teacher for every core discipline.
Imagine that you are back at school, sitting in class. Maybe it’s a class you excel at, and sometimes you feel distracted or bored because you’ve read ahead and you already know the material. Or maybe you’re in a class you don’t like very much because you struggle with the material. Why is the teacher going so fast? You barely understood the last lesson!
Now imagine there was a second teacher in that classroom, one who knew your strengths and areas for improvement, who could work with you to make sure you were achieving your potential in the best way for you. This is the approach that best describes the SET/LET model at BASIS Independent Schools.
Subject Expert Teachers
SETs, or Subject Expert Teachers, lead classes in the subjects they are the most passionate about (as reflected in their degrees and hobbies). Their area of expertise is their sole focus, allowing them to concentrate on creating interesting, in-depth lessons for all the grade levels they teach. Students in Grade 1 and above have one SET for each discipline rather than one teacher who teaches multiple subjects.
Learning Expert Teachers
LETs, or Learning Expert Teachers, are responsible for a class of students who are all in the same grade. An LET for a second grade class, for example, will stay with that second grade class all day and be with them in all their subject classes led by SETs. Because LETs are with their students all day, they know how they are doing in each subject, and can provide extra, customized support in class as needed when an SET is teaching. They are able to build trust and understanding with their students to better guide them through their academic challenges.
Together, these experts focus on building a classroom culture of social-emotional support and academic excellence, and work to craft lessons that are both advanced and accessible to all students. They not only help students feel safe, supported, and ready to learn at an advanced pace, but also determine the best ways to deliver material and promote students engagement. The symbiosis between these two expert teachers in the classroom lends itself to provide the flexibility necessary to do one-on-one work with students, small group work, and optimize classroom learning in real time.
This two teacher model minimizes distractions and maximizes learning. Students get the benefit of teachers who love their subjects and can pass that passion on, and a teacher who can keep a close eye on their progress and happiness. At BASIS Independent Schools, this SET/LET relationship is at the heart of our goal to instill a lifelong passion for learning in our students.
In addition to co-teaching with SETs, our LETs lead a weekly class called Connections. Connections is an interdisciplinary course designed to challenge students to utilize their knowledge in a creative way. This class presents students with project based scenarios that require the use of mental agility, creativity, and problem-solving skills as they establish links across subjects, showing how each subject related to the other and gain a deeper understanding of the material they are learning.
One of our most exciting Connections projects happens in 3rd grade, when students are tasked with creating their very own culture. Students spend several weeks creating different components of their fictional culture, including designing a flag, creating currency, and developing an alphabet. The culminating project was to create a poster to display all of the components they had created for their culture.
The SET/LET model allows for outstanding educational outcomes for students, as well as increased career satisfaction for teachers. Learn more about our innovative elementary classroom model on our website.
This post originally appeared on the BASIS Independent Fremont Eureka! blog.