I had been waiting several months for this past week of school. That is because the first course in our Enrichment Program began on Monday. I’ve been intrigued by Enrichment since the first time I heard about the program. I couldn’t wait to see it finally in action!
The Enrichment Program at Assets might be best understood as “electives” at other schools. There are differences though. To start with, Enrichment consists of classes that are in addition to the Fine Art, Performing Arts, Physical Education, and Technology courses that all students are already scheduled for weekly. Enrichment is scheduled for 50 minutes each day, except Wednesday, and is a time for students to explore other areas of interest or strength. We start by providing students a “menu” during the first week of school of roughly thirty class offerings. Students then rank which classes they are most interested in pursuing. Enrichment classes last for three weeks at a time at which point we rotate to the next session. By the time the school year ends, students will typically have participated in eight or nine different enrichment classes! These classes are not graded, and simply focus on having fun and learning as its own reward.
For this first session, we offered classes in Minecraft, Sports & Games, Hip Hop Dance, Free Drawing, Basketball, Football, Paracord Survival Bracelets, Canine Crafts, Legos, Rocketry, Computer Games & Challenges, Cooking, Glass Etching, Jewelry Making, Hands-On Science, Mudworks, and Yoga. That’s an impressive list! Additionally, like all other aspects of our educational program, Enrichment embraces the school’s pedagogical commitment to experiential, hands-on and multisensory learning.
Against the National Trend
The past 15 years in education have been largely defined as an era of standards-based accountability, highlighted by the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). This isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison because Assets does not need to comply with the same mandates as the public schools, but it is informative to see how public education has shifted nationally. According to a 2007 report from the Center on Education Policy, since the enactment of NCLB, 44% of school districts reduced the amount of time they spent on science, social studies, art and music, physical education, lunch or recess at the elementary school level. This has largely been attributed as a reaction to the fact that Language Arts and Math were the only two subjects initially tested for accountability under NCLB. At a time when the national trend had been to decrease the time spent on subjects other than Language Arts and Math, it’s been refreshing to see Assets hold firm in its commitment to a full education.
The Power of Enrichment
Why was I so excited to see this program in action? Because I think, it’s one of the school’s most distinguishing features and one that embodies so much of the Assets philosophy. Quite honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it before.
While we always welcome parent involvement at our school, the power of Enrichment is the student choice. Even our youngest students, our six-year olds, are directing their learning and telling us what they want to study. It’s important for children and adolescents to learn that education is not something that happens to you; instead, learning occurs when you are an active participant in the process.
According to the staff members I’ve asked, the Enrichment Program at Assets has been around as long as they have been at the school. This fact is even more impressive when you consider some staff members have served here for over 30 years. This makes Enrichment a living testament to the vision and understanding the early Assets educators had for the type of program our kids need and deserve.
One of the program’s many beauties is that it is equally important in our approach to serving the various student learning profiles we have on campus. What I think those early Assets educators understood was that Enrichment reassure students that they are capable learners. It helps remind, maybe even reignite in them, that learning is full of awe and wonder, and should be a joyful experience.
Mahalo to our Teachers
When describing this aspect of our educational program, I must take time to mention our wonderful faculty and staff who make this program come alive. Mahalo to our student services coordinator, Kenneth Powell, for scheduling all of the students’ requests and preferences. Another reason I love Enrichment is because it allows a space for teachers to share areas of their personal interest and talent with our students. However, we also offer enrichment classes solely because they reflects the interests of the students; we may not have a faculty member with particular expertise in this area. When this occurs, our teachers work hard to learn more about their topic so they can in turn help guide our students. Through their study, our teachers are acting as the best models for learning that we could expose our students to.
For example, we offer enrichments at both 1:20 and 2:05 pm. I’ve seen teachers assigned to teach the 2:05 class sacrifice their prep period and join the 1:20 version of the same enrichment course. Our teachers join so they can learn from their colleagues and provide an even richer experience for our students. This is just a microcosm of the dedication our faculty show all the time. When we join a student’s class as an adult learner, we are communicating to our community that learning is an endless journey. We also reinforce that adults are not always the gatekeepers of knowledge and there are many topics our passions will guide us toward that we can only engage in if we agree to be vulnerable and learn together.
I feel lucky to work with such a talented and committed group of educators. Please join me in thanking them for their good work with our students.
Pingback: Running in the Halls Isn’t Allowed….But I Understand | Assets School K-8 Principal Blog
Pingback: Experts in Gifted Education Visit Assets | K-8 Principal Blog
Pingback: “I’m Doing GREAT!” | K-8 Principal Blog
September 3, 2014 at 6:30 pm
Thank you for your blog. I especially enjoyed reading this one about Enrichments. This is my son’s first year at Assets. He attended Assets summer school where he was first introduced to the concept of Enrichments. He thought it was so cool that HE got to choose “classes” himself. This is a wonderful concept for children with learning differences who often times has a lower self esteem because of their academic challenges. Enrichments allows them to feel good about their accomplishment in an activity that they feel confident in or have interest in. Look forward to reading your next post !!
September 2, 2014 at 9:53 pm
Very well stated! I’ve never understood how children can be expected to enter adult life as continuous learners, valuing every opportunity to absorb something new, rather than seeing it as a chore to be avoided. Usually their only models are portrayed as “getting the job done”, “making the grade” and completely overlooking the joy of the process. Assets is doing a marvelous job of preparing our kids for full lives.
P.S. I wish I’d been able to attend one of the iPad meetings. Though nothing replaces those zany teachers, I would welcome a recap, if one is available.
September 2, 2014 at 4:49 pm
The “Against the National Trend” section made me think about how fortunate we are to have our enrichment program. Each day, when students arrive for enrichment, they are glowing with joy and are hungry to participate and learn. It is a wonderful experience for them. Mahalo for capturing the essence of our program and sharing it with our community.
September 2, 2014 at 3:37 pm
A friend of mine who has a son in public school was saying that his school has all but cut all the enrichment classes from their curriculum. Learning is so much more than test scores — a well-rounded education is important. Thank you for your blog and the enrichment classes!
September 2, 2014 at 3:01 pm
I love the part where Ryan says teachers model that learning continues by attending enrichment classes alongside the students.
My son openly expresses the positive differences of Assets curriculum and teachers. Rich is always excited to come to school and very happy at Assets.
September 2, 2014 at 2:52 pm
Mahalo nui for your blog! Although my son has been thoroughly enjoying his enrichment times at Assets, I never heard it explained quite so eloquently. Mahalo for taking the time to reach out to parents through this blog and for sharing the wonderful pictures! It’s beautiful to see the children in action. While we all understand the exciting things our children are experiencing at school, we also know and greatly appreciate there are tremendously talented and dedicated professionals who are supporting and facilitating their learning every single day. My hat’s off to you and all your colleagues! Mahalo nui loa! BTW, great iPad meeting! Very impressed with the teachers who were present. I’m so glad I attended!
September 2, 2014 at 11:38 am
Thanks for a great summary of the Enrichment program. My son is in Free Draw this rotation and loves it! He loves to draw in his free time and for the first time ever, he gets to do it as a part of school. As a first year Assets parent, I love the concept of choice, fun, multi-sensory and developing the whole child in your Enrichment program. I appreciate your posts to this blog. It is a great way to learn more about Assets and your programs and faculty. Thank you!
September 2, 2014 at 2:52 pm
Aloha Ruby. Thank you for reading and for such warm feedback. I’m really glad E. is enjoying free draw!
September 2, 2014 at 8:58 am
Great Blog, Ryan. Mahalo!
September 2, 2014 at 2:49 pm