Mission & Goals
The stated values of the school recognize the individual potential of students, the importance of small groups, a strong partnership between school and family, the importance of the teacher-child relationship, opportunities for enrichment, the development of skills necessary to function in a world rich with information, and respect for differences among people. Information technology can be a strong partner consistent with this mission and all of these values.
As a learning tool, computers facilitate the construction of knowledge. Students can hold elusive concepts “in their hands,” receiving feedback which would otherwise be impossible or impractical, as they discuss and investigate these concepts. They can use computers to represent their knowledge in ways that encourage thoughtful revision. Computers can lower the threshold for students who would otherwise stumble over certain mechanical details and learning disabilities. By helping students show what they know, teachers gain insight into their students’ learning, which helps them serve their students better.
As a teaching tool, computers can be a classroom partner, allowing teachers to amplify their message, and to display concepts and ideas in dynamic and more concrete ways. In the same way that computers encourage students to show what they know, they also encourage teachers to represent their message to students. Computers can also help level the playing field among students with learning differences, allowing teachers to better serve their needs. And of course, they can take some of the drudgery out of the more mundane aspects of teaching, allowing teachers to spend more time “teaching.”
As a communication tool, computers facilitate the exchange of ideas and information among every member of the community (students, faculty, school administration, parents, school staff, trustees, alumni) both within and without the school buildings. They also allow us to participate in the global community, as we communicate with fellow students and teachers throughout the world.
As an information resource, computers extend the school library and classroom bookshelves. Large amounts of information can be quickly and conveniently retrieved. The information doesn’t necessarily have to be housed within the school, as the world’s information repositories open their doors to us.
As an administrative tool, computers facilitate the myriads of tasks that are necessary as we serve the needs of students, teachers, parents, and trustees. We continually “raise the bar” of expectations for service to our community, whether it be managing the information “bee hive” of the school secretary’s office, facilitating communication between school and home, navigating the complex financial operation in the business office, facilitating our growing dependence upon fund raising, managing the many hundreds of prospective students who apply to our school each year, or serving the needs of an active and inventive faculty.
The Nature of Teaching and Learning is Changing
Education in the twenty-first century is moving from private acts of information gathering and memorization to collaborative acts of information evaluation and problem solving. It is not possible to know everything, even within a very narrow field. The amount of information is vast and growing by the minute. Knowing how to filter out irrelevant or poor information, and how to combine relevant information appropriately with original thinking is increasingly important.
The world in which our children will live, work and play will require them to learn new skills continually. To teach well, we adults must model lifelong learning. Certainly, the ever-changing nature of our computer tools gives us ample opportunity to practice our learning skills.
In an increasingly inter-connected and information-rich world, our children will have to be skilled collaborators, able to combine multiple disciplines, and to incorporate new disciplines into their repertoire throughout their lives. They will need to demonstrate creativity and innovation as well as critical thinking when solving problems and making decisions. Technology-rich classrooms tend to encourage collaboration, inclusion, participation, and exploration. Teacher-centered lessons tend to give way to student-centered, interdisciplinary projects, with teachers occasionally participating as model learners along with the children.
The Nature of Teaching and Learning Remains the Same
Teaching will always be an intimate human endeavor. Amidst the changing nature of our tools, and the changing world for which we prepare our children, teaching still involves the personal relationship between teacher and student. Teachers perform a complex balancing act involving intellect, feelings, motivation, human differences, and personalities. The ability to communicate with, and to listen deeply to our students, and to truly understand them, will always be at the center of successful teaching.
Characteristics of a Successful Technology Program
In a successful technology program, students, teachers, administrators, and parents have:
- an understanding of information technology and its role as a teaching and learning tool
- the confidence and enthusiasm to try (or even invent) new technology-rich activities
- the ability to learn the new skills which these activities require
- the wisdom to reject technology that does not serve them or the mission of the school.
In a successful technology program, what you choose to do with technology and how you use it are reflections of the core values of our community—its curricular, pedagogical, and procedural goals. A successful program measures the value of technology by whether it makes possible learning achievements, teacher effectiveness, administrative acuity, and connections with families that would not otherwise be possible.