As a first-grade classroom teacher, the development of the whole child has always been at the forefront of my thinking, but it was particularly during this past year and a half as I taught in a COVID world.  We can’t expect our students to flourish in every way if we don’t nourish all important aspects linked to child development.

I have always been drawn to Springboard’s mission, vision, and goals not only because my passion in education is literacy, but more so because of the focus placed on family engagement. The FELA methodology is unique in that it supports the development of the whole child in many different ways with the support of both of their biggest fans: the students’ family members and their teachers!

From my practices as both a teacher and a leader, within and beyond the Springboard community, here are 4 concrete ways in which I believe FELA methodology supports development of the whole child:

Team Building Huddle (Step 1 of the FELA methodology: Build your team)

Setting the foundation for strong personal and academic relationships, and then continuously fostering them inevitably leads to wholesome engagement. 

The team building huddle, formerly known as a home visit, is an opportunity to kick the FELA off and set the stage for open lines of communication in all areas between teachers, families, and students. By starting on a personal and “get to know you” level prior to any discussion related to academics, all parties demonstrate a child’s personal needs at the forefront of the journey.  

Team Building huddles are an initial opportunity for teachers to be able to openly communicate with students and families past just an academic lens (as they now have some more insight into their unique viewpoints.)

Student Action Plans (Part of Step 3 of the FELA methodology: Set your goal)

Partnering with families to provide them with the language and tools/strategies to use to support their student towards proficiency in a skill area will support internalization for family members and students alike. 

In all aspects of life, if we want to make growth, we need to set a goal and then plan exactly how we are going to achieve this goal. Here at Springboard, we assess our students and then provide families with concrete simple strategies to support their child in an area of need. More specifically, we equip families to become their child’s “At Home Reading Coach.”  Through developing and supporting this academic lens of a family-child relationship, we are continuing to work toward development of the whole child. 

Action Plans allow for families to interact and support open lines of academic communication with their students. 

Family Workshops (Part of Step 4 of the FELA methodology: Practice, Practice, Practice)

Opportunities to see an authentic model and then apply the same strategies with the support of a teacher present lends itself to hands-on teamwork towards promoting confidence and literacy learning for all stakeholders. 

Through the practice of gradual release of instruction, similarly to how we instruct our students, families are able to see a model of a specific strategy, and then implement coaching their student with this strategy moments after. The best part is that the teacher is able to support the families and students alike during the practice time portion of the session. This real-time feedback and support is priceless, as all parties can work together to support the child. Whether it be promoting confidence with a specific strategy or providing suggestions for differentiation, the needs of the students are always being met. 

Family Workshops promote communication between families and students through opportunities and resources to dive into reading. 

Learning Bonus Celebration (Part of Step 6 of the FELA methodology: Celebrate your achievements)

It is important to publicly acknowledge the effort, achievement, and growth of students and families alike. There’s no better way to do this than to celebrate!

An essential component of developing a child’s self-esteem and growth mindset is identifying and celebrating their efforts and achievements. Our students put forth such great persistence on a consistent basis from daily instruction, to workshop practice with families, to independent practice. We want to motivate our students by celebrating their successes from confidence building to risk-taking to achieving!

There is no better way to mold our youngest learners into developing a growth mindset than to celebrate all of their successes: from small wins in successfully mastering a strategy, to big wins by growing reading levels, we want to support them!