The instructional method that is the foundation for our school will be the Paideia Teaching Approach. Paideia instruction offers a unique approach to active learning, with a twofold goal to teach all students to think and enable adults in students' lives to see themselves as life-long learners. To this end, Paideia classroom combines four instructional techniques:2 didactic instruction, Socratic discussions, coaching, and collaboration.
Didactic Instruction refers to oral or written presentation in all subject areas. Through didactic instruction, students acquire factual knowledge about specific events and models. Instruction is focused on basic concepts required for more in-depth understanding of a subject, not the memorization of facts.
Socratic discussion requires students to think critically, consider complex ideas, actively listen and communicate with multiple partners. Socratic seminars are the highlight of Paideia education. Seminars focus on literature, historical documents, works of art and other primary source materials. These seminars encourage children to use critical-thinking and express their thoughts about the world around them. All participate and share ideas and opinions at the level that is appropriate to their level of understanding. Articulation, conceptual understanding, and listening are key skills addressed.
Coaching is used as a means of developing and practicing the skills of learning. Students practice and master skills introduced during their didactic classroom experience. Teachers use a variety of small group activities to involve students in guided practice activities. Students are provided appropriate feedback and reinforcement at each step in their learning process. Coaching focuses on active participation. Teachers use coaching as an important part of differentiating instruction within the group context.
Collaborative teaching is used to expose students to strengths of different professionals as a way to bring the expertise of parents and community members to the classroom. Collaborative teaching is different from simply co-teaching a lesson in the traditional sense. In collaborative teaching the collaborating instructors teach materials that span disciplinary boundaries constructively. Instructors teach as a team, bringing cross-disciplinary core curriculum into a course. Collaborative teaching in our proposal also means utilizing the experience and knowledge of outside professionals who can contribute to our curriculum through selected teaching, guest lectures, and student mentoring.