The Magic of Small Groups

ESA’s mission and the Lower School’s model can be found in these daily rotations.

Peek into a kindergarten classroom at reading or math time, and the idea of a unified lesson plan may not seem to fit. Students are scat­tered throughout the room, some working in a small group with a teacher or assistant, oth­ers working independently in groups of two or three to write, cut, color, or create with beads. Yet underlying the variety of activities is an orchestrated rotation of learning that makes ESA’s early childhood program unique.
 
These small groups allow differentiation, a core component of the Lower School’s School­wide Enrichment Model. Working with a few students at a time, teachers can meet students where their needs are and move them to the next level. Instead of trying to bring all stu­dents to the same place, teachers can ensure that each child continually progresses.
 
“We’re blessed to have assistants who are highly qualified and high­ly skilled,” says teacher Sandy Thompson. “They’re able to take on the role of teacher and to work with one group of students while we work with another group.”
 
The day’s lesson is taught in the two teacher stations, and while each group works on the same skills, the teacher is able to respond to what the students in the group are thinking. A comment may spark a discussion or a mod­ification to an activity within the framework of the lesson plan. A more advanced group may be given less direction and support, and may work at a different pace. One group may take a deeper look at the concept, while an­other group may move on to the next step. With anywhere from three to eight students in a group, the teacher has the room, and the expertise, to creatively adapt to the children in front of her.
 
Each day for reading and math, students rotate through the teacher stations and two indepen­dent stations. Unlike the open exploration found in PK centers, the kindergarten inde­pendent stations present students with activi­ties that give them the opportunity to practice the day’s lesson. Students move between a fine motor station and a game-based station or a technology station.
 
At independent stations, the students tackle tasks without supervision. Teachers encourage students to use their “figure it out brains” to complete the activities. As they build auton­omy, students learn how to initiate, organize, manage their time, collaborate with partners, deal with problems, and make mistakes then move on.
 
“It’s amazing how far they come,” says teacher Julie Miller. “They love doing things by themselves, and it gives them responsibility for their own learning.”
 
Beyond reading and math, the students begin forming the habits of scholarship that they’ll build on throughout their time at ESA.

To learn more about ESA or to schedule a visit to one of our campuses, contact our Admissions team: Megan Richard - Lafayette Campus (PK3-5th) or Jon Berthelot - Cade Campus (6th -12th).
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Episcopal School of Acadiana

Episcopal School of Acadiana is a private coeducational day school for students in grades PK3 through 12. Our mission is to instill in every student the habits of scholarship and honor.
ESA does not discriminate on the basis of physical disability, race, religion, gender, or national or ethnic origin.
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