The Weekly Bulldog

January 17, 2019

Big picture
Big picture

A snapshot of 2nd-grade community building in the Commons this week...
(share more photos on Stanley's private photo-sharing site Vidigami)

From Tim: Kids do better when teachers know them well

I hope you and your children have settled back into the rhythm of the school schedule. More than one of you commented to me last week how pleased and ready you were to have your kids back at Stanley.

I enjoyed re-reading a May 2018 article from the Hechinger Report, a non-profit education publication focused on inequality and innovation, about the importance of teacher/student relationships. The title sums it up well: “Kids Do Better When Teachers Know Them Well.” The author cites two recent studies involving elementary-aged students that examine the impact of “platooning” and “looping” on a range of academic and social/emotional outcomes. Platooning refers to the practice of allowing teachers to specialize in a particular subject or two, with children spending time during the day with two or more specialists instead of with one core teacher providing instruction in all or most subjects. Looping describes the practice of children spending more than one year with a teacher.

One of the studies, from Harvard University, compared results from schools in which platooning was the norm with results from schools that followed a core homeroom teacher format. Classrooms that retained students in homerooms throughout the day fared significantly better, both in test scores and in measures of positive student engagement such as attendance and behavioral issues. In another study, from economists at Montana State, researchers studied the impact of classrooms in which students spent a second year with the same classroom teacher, and they found that academic and behavioral measures improved. The article also references a number of countries, including Austria, Hungary, Norway, Portugal, Latvia, and Israel, in which “not only don’t they use specialized teachers in elementary school at all, the average teacher in these countries stays with the same group of elementary school children for at least three years.”

Naturally, great teachers at any age level are proficient in and excited by the subject matter they teach. But the studies do support what we know about what makes truly effective teaching and learning. The ability to know children is critical. Learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum; teachers need to have the time to understand what makes each student tick, and what’s going on in each child’s life. Who just lost a tooth? Who is worried about a family member? Who is having an easy time with friends, or a hard one? Different from industries that may find efficiencies in specialization of labor, schools work best when they respect that kids aren’t widgets, they’re people with complex lives, hopes and needs. The dedication and the time to understand those lives, hopes, and needs is what makes great teachers.

All the best,


Top Five Things

1. Ideas banked for dinner table topics

Troubling news events, politics, racial injustice ... these topics are an ongoing focus of our social-emotional program and can be challenging for us as parents when they make their way home. To help, Stanley's idea bank ( is stocked with helpful articles, references and expert advice on how to handle some trickier topics at home.

2. Martin Luther King Jr. glues us together

One of our most cherished annual events happens this Friday morning. This year, we welcome back activist, artist and educator Jeremy Vasquez who will energize us during our all-school assembly. All are welcome to experience this event or to join a sometimes intrepid group of walkers at Denver's Marade on Monday!

3. Come to a special evening meeting of the PA with guest author

Mark your calendars: Author and founder of The Equity Project Nita Mosby Tyler joins Stanley parents February 12 at 6:30 in our ballroom to talk about what her childhood taught her about diversity, equity and inclusion. Come for updates and other news from the PA, plus reserve your copy of her new book and get a peek of Dr. Mosby Tyler's workshop at Stanley in March.

4. Re-enrollment packets in the mail this week

Re-enrollment packets for returning students are being posted tomorrow and will be arriving in your snail-mailboxes in the next few days. Contracts and deposits are due February 1. Please check your post for a healthy-sized envelope. New this year: All families will enroll in the FACTS online tuition payment program.

5. Hogwarts and Day Camp and Adventures in Denver - Oh My!

Sign your kids up for Summer at Stanley camp when registration opens next week. Hogwarts camp registration opens Tuesday, January 22 at 9 a.m. Specialty camp signups, for students entering 3rd to 9th grades, begin at 1 p.m. that same day. Finally, Day camp registration for kids age 5-8 begins at 9 a.m. on Thursday, January 24.