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University Child Development School (UCDS)

Description

The UCDS Mission University Child Development School is centered around the lives of children and dedicated to the development of their intellect and character. We actively encourage, and the school everywhere reflects, the process of joyful discovery that is central to meaningful and responsible learning. Teaching is individualized and responsive to the talents of each student, and the curriculum is rigorous and integrates the concepts and skills embedded within the major disciplines. Our students are chosen for their promise of intellect and character and are selected from a cross-section of the community. Our faculty members are leaders in their fields, supported in advancing their studies and encouraged to share their knowledge widely. In pursuit of these ideals, and in recognition of obligations beyond the school itself, we strive to be an innovative leader in education, serving as a model for others. Philosophy UCDS was born as a lab school on the campus of the University of Washington in 1911. Since the inception of this school, our teachers have assumed the role of educational researchers as they designed, implemented and evaluated our programs. Today, as a professional practice school, UCDS is engaged in ongoing educational reform. Our school is a dynamic learning environment for teachers as we work together to understand and inspire each child that we serve. Like our students, teachers at UCDS collaborate with colleagues and support each other professionally. No one works in isolation. Everyone is called upon at one time or another to coach, to present, to consult, to conduct action research, and to network. Each faculty member brings different expertise and experience, enriching the learning environment for others. Community UCDS builds a strong community between students, teachers, staff, parents, Board of Trustees and neighborhood. The UCDS Parent Association is an integral part of our community and works to support the children, faculty, parents, and programs of the school. Parents are invited to participate in a variety of school activities ranging from family gatherings to school-wide fundraising efforts. Inquiry Inquiry is a central organizing principle when children are able to construct their own understanding. We expect that both teachers and students will generate questions and learn how to investigate to gain understanding. Learning is an important product of this focused investigation; academic skills are embedded in the context of this meaningful work. Part of the process of inquiry is reflective: What do I know? What do I understand? Where am I now? Where do I want to be? What are the next steps? Reflective learners develop thinking habits that make them better at learning. In our classrooms, the teacher models thinking, planning, risk taking, implementing, and reflection. Individualized Instruction Given the opportunity to construct their own understanding, children will learn differently. Each child has unique talents, ways of thinking and levels of understanding. We anticipate that children will learn at different rates and expect that children of the same chronological age will be at different places in their social, emotional, and physical development. Each child brings to the classroom a set of prior learning experiences and values from their family and community. We believe that all of these differences are important to our understanding of who a child is and how he/she makes sense of the world. The job of the teacher is not to create a single perfect curriculum or a spectacular lesson, but rather to observe individual children carefully to create instructional strategies based on what a child needs. Collaboration Collaboration is a vehicle for the civic responsibility we want our students to develop. To participate effectively in a democratic community, children need to learn to engage in dialogue. We think it is vital for children to learn to explain their own thinking, to consider another point of view, to build on someone else's idea, and to reconsider their own thinking based on feedback from others. Teachers expect children to collaborate to solve problems, to plan activities, and to work together on whole class projects. Children are also expected to consult classmates whenever they need feedback or another idea for approaching a problem. In this way, children are exposed to multiple strategies for solving a problem and become more flexible in their thinking. Children learn to assume leadership at the same time that they assume responsibility for the needs of others in the group. Responsibility Civic responsibility is central to the ethos of our school. Each child is responsible for sharing his/her knowledge and talent in a way that enriches the rest of the community. We teach children to listen carefully to others, to help one another, to share what they have learned, to coach one another, to participate in group discussions, and to develop areas of expertise where a child can assume leadership. We believe that developing tolerance for different points of view and empathy for the needs of others is essential to the moral development of a child. In our school, curriculum is organized around big ideas, interesting problems, interests of the students, and issues in the community. Learning is connected to the real world and children are able to build on what they already know. Diversity Living in a diverse world presents challenges and joys for our children. We believe each of us is entitled to an equitable and safe environment, which promotes acceptance and appreciation of ourselves as well as others. Our school is a community that strives to lead by example in respecting and affirming the unique qualities of each person. We actively seek individuals from a wide spectrum of backgrounds. UCDS recognizes that different backgrounds and perspectives can sometimes create tension, but also stimulate growth and new possibilities; we encourage courageous conversation to challenge assumptions and foster greater understanding among people. We value what each of us contributes to the whole and envision our school as a mosaic that reflects the broader community.

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