At La Jolla Country Day School, we encourage our teachers to build relationships with students and their parents, and we believe our efforts fostering relational teaching yield rewards in student lifelong learning. LJCDS faculty share a deep passion for their chosen discipline, and their overarching commitment is meeting every student where he or she is and developing each to the best scholar and person he or she can become.
This semester I met individually with each teacher, and I was awed by their remarkable talents. Every meeting confirmed their absolute commitment to doing what is best for each student. Our faculty is not afraid to challenge students, and they are always there to celebrate their successes and to help them learn from their failures, perhaps the most important preparation for life.
Cathy Small, a tenured ethnographer, professor and graduate coordinator of anthropology at Northern Arizona University, matriculated “undercover” from NAU. She resided in the dorm, attended classes, and came to the conclusion in her book, My Freshman Year, that college teachers and administrators “overestimate the role academics plays in student culture.”
Recently in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Jacques Berlinerblau of Georgetown University, concluded that the “bitter and undeniable truth is that most professors and students in 21st century America are cordially estranged.” He shared that college students spend 10.9 fewer hours a week on homework than high school students. He argues that students and teachers at the college level lead parallel lives, with students filling their time on social media and teachers on research. I share this as not to disparage the college experience but to emphasize the important aspect of the centrality teachers play in our students’ lives at LJCDS.
Here student learning is a collaborative effort. Teachers know their students outside the classroom as advisees, artists, athletes, and in numerous extracurricular activities. They work together to align our curriculum and improve student learning. It is a child-centered holistic approach that empowers and encourages our graduates to seek out good teaching when they matriculate to college. From their experience at LJCDS, our students know that teachers are partners in their future, and our graduates seek good teachers in college to work collaboratively and find success. What college teacher can turn down a student who self-advocates, possesses a strong work ethic, and is committed to the greater good?