RIGOROUS ACADEMICS

Rigor refers to the line between challenging and frustrating a student.

 

Our students at New Hope Christian Academy are challenged to think, perform, and grow to a level that they were not at previously. They are encouraged and taught to build skills, understanding, and thinking power so they can achieve at higher levels. It means that the standards of the courses are calibrated so that students are compelled to grow, but are not overwhelmed in the process.  Curriculum is designed to allow the teacher to support and motivate each student individually, enabling academic growth and success.  The teacher sets high expectations, while at the same time creating an environment that is conducive for academic growth.

 

Based on an article from TeacherHub, written by Jacqui Murray, "Rigor is NOT lots of homework, projects, resources, or rules. When those four nouns are used to define rigor, the teacher is flailing, thinking quantity is quality. Rigor is not about adding a column of data or remembering the main characters in a Shakespeare play. It's seeing how knowledge connects to life, to circumstances, and to daily problems."

How do our teachers incorporate rigor into the classroom? 

1. Make it easy to decode words by providing dictionary (either online or text) that students can access with unknown words.

2. Build grit in students. Let them know they are capable, competent, that thinking hard does not mean they didn't understand. It means they want to understand.

3. Expect inquiry. Be prepared. Make time for it.

4. When you ask a question, pause. Let students think before answering. This wait time isn't delaying your lesson. In a rigorous classroom, it is the lesson.

5. Expect rigor -- don't allow students to be satisfied with a superficial answer. Build habits that look for understanding.

6. Face unknown questions with a smile. Make the classroom a safe, non-judgmental learning environment where students can practice their critical thinking skills.

7. Require students do projects with a high degree of precision and skill.

8. Make it normal to invent solutions that haven't been thought of before, but satisfy requirements.

9. Expect students to double check both the approach and result.

10. Create an environment conducive to personal growth. Know what that means for each student.

11. Focus on exceptional expectations.

12. As students participate in class conversations, expect them to use academic and domain-specific vocabulary. If they use words like “something,” “you know,” “that,” or “like,” prod them to come up with specifics. Like what? No I don't know. This immerses them in learning, discovering, and thinking critically.

13. As students answer questions, expect evidence to support their answer. This can come from personal experience, but more often will find relevance from learning resources.

14.  Listen to student answers. Pay attention. Challenge them to be thorough.

15. Don't draw conclusions for students. Present them with evidence. See where it takes them.

16. Expect students to build on classmate comments and understand different perspectives.

17. Support students so they can reach high expectations. If they are thinking outside the box, don't pull them back in. Ask questions: Is this approach going to meet expectations, solve problems, achieve desired results? If it is, let them do it!

18. Provide a way for each student to demonstrate learning even if it isn't a way you've thought of. Applaud them if they devise an approach that works for them.

19. Differentiate for student needs. If you have a project that seems to fit everyone, it doesn't. How do I know that? Because no project does.

20. Expect students to analyze data during reading. Ask why -- determine if the author provided proof or simply made a statement -- and know the difference.

21. Expect problem solving. Don't jump in to solve problems. Provide students with strategies they can use and let them try them.

22. Remind students that “easy” occurs through hard work. Discuss this -- how they excelled at soccer, piano, or the violin through tenacity and drive. Have students share their experiences. (J.Murray)

An education at New Hope Christian Academy promotes critical thinking and problems solving; collaboration and leadership; initiative and adaptability; and accessing and analyzing information. The students are taught effective written and communication skills, and their own curiosities and imaginations are directed effectively to enhance their learning process. This too, is approached in a way that encompasses their growth academically, physically, emotionally and spiritually