We believe students learn best when content is connected to real-world issues and needs, and thus espouse a student-centered1, interdisciplinary teaching philosophy based on Expeditionary Learning and Learning Through Music (LTM). El Sistema will provide a well-rounded education through music, complemented by physical education.
In alignment with the New York State CCLS, including compliance with and successful completion of the New York State Testing Program assessments, WHIN’s enriched educational programs and curricula will ensure our diverse student population meets New York State CCLS. For these reasons, WHIN will provide a curriculum and instruction plan to meet and exceed ‘achievement indicators for academic trends toward proficiency and high school graduation’ as detailed in Benchmark 1 of the NYSED Charter School Performance Framework.2
The backbone of the WHIN framework is the belief that students learn best when presented with a cross curricular, rigorous, inquiry-driven, and data-driven experience directly connected to Common Core State Standards, and differentiated for each learner’s unique needs while developing his/her social-emotional and character skills.
We will use a school wide, sequential, and cross-curricular Understanding By Design (UbD) approach that promotes a rigorous, inquiry-driven, project-based academic curriculum. This framework will be overseen by the Directors of Curriculum and Instruction and developed in partnership with the schools teachers, and draws upon the successful data-supported curriculum of the Conservatory Lab Charter School.
The motto of El Sistema is “Tocar y Luchar,” which means, “To play and to strive.” El Sistema in Venezuela is a socially conscious youth development program that has enabled hundreds of thousands of youth to view themselves as “assets within the community.” In the tradition of the El Sistema, WHIN strives to create a positive learning environment where all members feel welcome.
WHIN will use the evidence-based practices of Responsive Classroom to develop a school-wide school culture drawn heavily upon the following three core values of El Sistema as described by Eric Booth:3
WHIN Ways of Being
WHIN is committed to developing students holistically and authentically; instead of setting aside a specified time to perform character development, WHIN integrates elements of character strengthening within all content areas.
Specifically, we aim to create students who are:
Within each of these larger categories, we include a rich variety of well-researched factors that contribute to long-term academic and personal success. El Sistema has long-incorporated skills and abilities outside of musicianship into its teaching and practice, and we draw from the successes and work accomplished around the world in the El Sistema movement to ensure WHIN students are given not just the highest quality instruction and academic development but also the tools necessary to experience a rich, fulfilling life. Staff members at WHIN also embody these qualities and serve as models for one another and our young learners.
- We take ownership of our learning, our actions, and our physical space.
- We stay focused and in control of our actions to accomplish our goals.
- We know that we can improve with effort and hard work.
- We challenge ourselves and keep trying.
- We seek out people and resources to guide our learning.
- We work well with others to complete a shared goal.
- We show curiosity by asking questions and seeking answers.
- We show enthusiasm about our learning and eagerness to learn more because our work has value to us!
- We try to see things from another person’s point of view. We think about other people’s feelings before acting.
- We treat ourselves, others, and the environment with care.
- We appreciate one another.
- We seek to understand individuals around us, including those who are different from us and appreciate different points of view.
- We do the right thing even when it is hard.
- We use our strengths to help others grow.
- We make music that is based in and for our community.
- We make music that creates/raises awareness, understanding, and reflection of social issues.
- We notice what needs to be done and do it.
- We use our learning to inform how we take thoughtful action in our school, the community, the environment, and the world.
Each and every day, WHIN students engage in rich experiences that develop their capacity to problem solve, understand, and strive to become better versions of themselves.
As a Child-Centered School, our main goal will be to ensure each student is safe and supported to succeed: With that as a foundation, each student can develop his/her academic, musical, emotional and social skills, so he/she can become a leader in his/her community, a role model for others, and a positive citizen. To achieve this goal of inclusion, WHIN will use the following strategies:
1. B. McCombs & J.S. Whistler, The Learner-Centered Classroom and School: Strategies for Increasing Student Motivation and Achievement. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publihsers, (1997).
2. New York State Board of Regents State Education Department, Charter School Performance Framework. Albany, New York, (2015)
3. E Booth, The Fundamentals of El Sistema: Which Inform and Guide El Sistema-inspired Programs, ericbooth.net, Jan 2012, http://ericbooth.net/the-fundamentals-of-el-sistema/
4. Honigsfield, A and M G Dove (2015). Collaboration and Co-Teaching for English Learners: A Leader’s Guide. Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage Publications, 65-66. Anderson, RB, R Isherwood, and J Merhaut (2013), Strategic Co-Teaching in Your School: Using the Co-design Model, Baltimore, MD, Brookes Publishing, 113.
5. Benninghof, A. (2012). Co-Teaching That Works: Structures & Strategies for Maximizing Student Learning. San Fran, CA, Jossey Bass, 10-13.
6. New York State Education Department (2014). NYC GEOG DIST # 6 – MANHATTAN Enrollment (2013 – 14). http://data.nysed.gov/enrollment.php?year=2014&instid=800000047032
7. Honigsfield, A and M G Dove (2015). Collaboration and Co-Teaching for English Learners: A Leader’s Guide. Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage Publications.