Our students are bright and college capable, and best of all, they think differently!
Some are creators and innovators, others analytical observers. Some are slow and deliberate cogitators, others are impulsively inquisitive. Some see patterns and systems naturally, others attend to detail first. Some are social learners, others work best independently. Some of our students also have diagnosed differences that impact their learning style, such as ADHD, executive dysfunction, slow processing speed, anxiety, NVLD, or depression.
In the Oliverian classroom, we view this diversity of learners as a great opportunity for mutual enrichment and cross pollination.
Office Hours and Learning Labs
Office Hours. Sounds like college, right? That’s no accident. At Oliverian we have built a time into the schedule — one half hour three times per week — when all teachers are available for support outside of class. Students start this period in their academic advisor’s classroom, where they review their grades and upcoming assignments and can get support with organization and time management. After checking in, they are free to visit any other teacher for extra help. Confused about that math problem? Stuck on the outline of your term paper? Your teacher is available to coach you through it.
Learning Lab provides a structured time every school night for students to do homework and study. Learning Labs are tailored to provide what each student needs. Those students who struggle to manage their academic work find themselves in small group learning lab where proctors provide focused and proactive organizational and study-skills support. Students who can manage their time more independently meet in the library in a more traditional study hall setting where proctors provide more space to manage work autonomously. When students are ready, they may earn Honors status, which enables them to work in their dorm rooms instead of a proctored study hall if they choose.
Executive Functioning and Study Skills
Oliverian has discovered that an individualized approach to executive functioning and study skills best fosters growth and lasting skill acquisition. So we partner with our students to ask: “What’s working for you as a student and what isn’t?” This mutual curiosity yields experimentation (iteration) with a variety of tools — be it a paper planner, a phone app, or a simple to-do list.
We teach our students to be students
While executive functioning is a broad term encompassing many cognitive skills, experience has taught us that there are four primary skill areas our students need to develop in order to function as effective students: organization, time management, note-taking, and studying.
We offer organization and time management coaching during office hours and study hall so that students can work experientially to manage their academic tasks. Advisors and proctors help set up materials that work for each student and coach them to maintain specific strategies over time. They also help students identify what needs to be done, prioritize, break big projects down into manageable pieces, and set up a work environment conducive to effective use of time. Reflection and experimentation are essential to finding the strategies that work for each student.
Encouraging Independent Learning
Whether a student struggles with school anxiety, executive functioning, or another learning challenge, our teachers strive to produce independent learners who can self-advocate and self-accommodate. This works best when we offer highly personalized but minimalist accommodations in direct partnership with the student. By balancing customized support, self-advocacy coaching, and a rigorous curriculum, students build a transferable and confident sense of themselves as learners.