Creating a sense of community is one of the most important things we can do to help our students learn. But, it’s hard to measure. As schools turn to the analytics and hard data of the business world to evaluate performance, standardized test scores and 3rd party rankings are becoming the balance sheets of education used to quantify school success, teacher effectiveness, and student achievement. Lost in this analysis is “the margin of the heart,” the often unquantifiable curriculum of community – the good stuff that enriches humankind.
At BCD, we choose to teach to the heart in addition to the mind knowing that its pulse carries with it the nutrients we need to sustain our community and its spirit. Educational research supports our work; it has taught us that when schools focus intentionally on nurturing their social and emotional selves they become diverse, safe, and welcoming places that have better educational outcomes. To be clear, we perform better when community is evident and love and care are ubiquitous.
Over the last few years, our faculty and staff have participated in several equity and inclusivity workshops, which have brought us together and increased the level of trust and understanding amongst us. We have successfully adopted the Responsive Classroom and Developmental Design models, a way of teaching that emphasizes social, emotional, and academic growth in a strong and safe school community. The resulting culture change has been evident and powerful in our classrooms, playgrounds, hallways and offices.
Our parents are community builders as well. From hosting our Back to School Bash in August, to serving as volunteers in our classrooms and on our Board of Trustees, BCD families show time and again that community is among their top priorities and that they benefit from its return.
Educating our hearts and minds teaches us to understand we are part of something larger than ourselves. The margins on that investment are huge and will help us transmit this place greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.