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The Many Advantages of One Class per Grade Level
By: Lower School Director Rachel Dixon
Our students, families, faculty and staff love being part of the intimate and tight-knit Rossman community. Part of being a small school means that we are structured with one class per grade level. We believe this comes with many advantages for our children and families. Here are a few that we believe make a big impact in the educational experience of Rossman students:
Over their eight years at Rossman from their first days in JK through sixth grade graduation, students and parents alike form a tight bond amongst each other. These close relationships are a hallmark of the Rossman community. Families make connections that last well beyond their years at the school. These close relationships also help students build an appreciation for others as they learn to celebrate the similarities and differences among their peers. Our students and families applaud each others’ achievements and offer a network of support through challenges. In this way, Rossman is so much more than just a school.
Tighter school-wide curricular alignment
Every year at Rossman, teachers and administrators focus on how to best align curriculum from grade level to grade level to ensure that we are seamlessly building from where we left off. While many schools must devote time as grade level teams to aligning curriculum across several classrooms at a single grade level, our teachers can focus on aligning the entire experience of a Rossman student over eight years. This creates a more focused and cohesive program.
This also allows teachers the flexibility to support each unique class in the best way possible. If there are certain areas or units of study that a cohort of students is particularly excited about or with which they need more assistance, teachers can accommodate those interests and needs without the pressure to finish in the exact same spot as other teams teaching the same grade level. This flexibility is celebrated by our teachers and represents the type of tailor-made education that is received at a high-quality independent school such as Rossman.
Less summer anxiety
With only one class and one set of teachers, there is no need to spend the summer wondering about which teacher you will be assigned to or which classmates you will be with. For many students (and parents), this can be a huge relief. This also allows us to celebrate grade level transitions early through a Move Up day in the spring.
Better awareness around strengths, needs and areas for support
Every class has its own unique personality. They have their preferences and passions, areas of strength and areas for support. As teachers work with the class from year to year, they can continually improve strategies for support and opportunities to leverage strengths, passing this information along to the next grade level team so that we are planning and catering to the specific abilities and interests of each group.
The comfort to take risks
If you had the pleasure of listening to Elizabeth Zurlinden’s Back to School Night speech, she shared a story of a Rossman graduate who attributed her ability to take risks with her learning and overall self-awareness to the level of comfort she had with her classmates. A safe learning environment is critical for growth. When students feel known, valued and accepted, they can stretch themselves to try new things and feel comfortable making mistakes. It is through this trial and error that true learning occurs.
It is such a treat to witness the special bonds that emerge between our children, families, faculty and staff, all in the context of a rich and thoughtful learning environment. Rossman is a small school with a big heart.
Rossman School, nestled on a 20-acre campus in Creve Coeur, is an independent private preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (four years old) through Grade 6. The school’s mission is to provide a strong, well-balanced education in a nurturing school community committed to excellence. Dedicated to developing personal, nurturing relationships with each child, Rossman’s experienced educators provide a solid foundation in academics, athletics and arts while emphasizing strong character development and leadership skills. Request a free Rossman School brochure here.