Family Sized Classes
The Kindezi Schools have made a radical commitment to small classes because we believe it is more natural, enjoyable, and effective for children to learn in smaller groups. It is very expensive, but we make this commitment for three primary, research-based reasons:
- Socratic Tutorial: A method in which students talk through their thoughts as they try to figure out everything from a math problem to the meaning of a poem with gentle guidance from a great teacher, is shown to be the most effective mode of instruction. In small Kindezi groups, each student gets more one-on-one attention and participates more in these group discussions.
- Supporting All Students to Meet High Expectations: The common sense notion that students learn best when they do work at an appropriate level of challenge. When given assignments are too far above or below their readiness, students get either frustrated or bored and lose focus and investment. We know it is our responsibility to build in the right supports so that all students get access to grade-level content and rich learning experiences. At Kindezi, we believe that our small classes are the perfect opportunity to push each student to cite evidence to defend their arguments, or show multiple ways to solve a problem.
- Relationships: Particularly in urban education, close and positive relationships between teachers and students impact motivation, perseverance, time on-task, and whether the learning feels relevant to the students' future. Small classes naturally lead to stronger, more positive relationships and at Kindezi; teachers are asked to stay in frequent touch with parents as a matter of course.
The Kindezi Schools have different foci. The Kindezi School at West Lake offers an arts and leadership curriculum with an arts integrated, project-based approach. The Kindezi School at Old Fourth Ward offers a STEAM and service learning approach. They both have a lot in common when it comes to the core subjects.
- Balanced Literacy: The main components of balanced literacy at Kindezi are foundations (e.g. phonics) in K-2, guided reading to push students to higher reading levels, and deep word with texts in both reading and writing. We work with our students to get practice with rich, complex texts, to defend their ideas in speaking and writing with evidence from texts, and to build content knowledge through engaging informational texts. Our science and social studies work deeply supports this work, and often our units are integrated across subjects. One example of this is a unit in which students learn the science behind natural disasters, read fiction about how natural disasters impact characters’ lives, and culminate with an opinion speech on how the U.S. should prioritize aid to neighboring countries after a natural disaster.
This is far from a textbook-based approach with worksheets and rote learning. Students are active participants in class discussions, engaging with informational text, literature, and poems on multiple levels of meaning. Critical thinking is a part of every day.
- Math: We teach mathematics using a Socratic approach that focuses on student’s deeper conceptual number sense rather than teaching students the quickest way to get a right answer. We encourage student-led discussions in which students explain their mathematical thinking to one another.
- Science and Social Studies: Here, the main aim of the Kindezi curriculum is make sure the content feels relevant to students and alive, rather than something to passively receive from a textbook. Themes from social studies and science are embedded within the literacy and math curricula. They inform the topics of our project-based learning. There are hands-on science labs/projects on a weekly basis and monthly field trips that are also related to the themes and projects.
Specials are an important part of experiential learning at Kindezi. Specials classes take place during the school day and provide all students exposure to various areas of study. Specials have an emphasis in smaller yet meaningful projects and performances to share with others in the school community.
Studios are optional, intensive afterschool classes offered at no cost to Kindezi students who are willing to invest the time it takes to develop true expertise in arts or STEAM subjects. We know that passion, self-discipline, and a cultivated expertise outside of the four core subjects has the potential to open doors of possibility and contribute to a rich academic experience. Studio options vary between schools.