The Bennett Day 10: What Makes Us Different
We believe there are ten key elements that make Bennett Day different from the typical Upper School experience. These differentiators allow us to be nimble, thoughtful, and intentional in our work with learners and help us fulfill our goal to advance creativity and innovation in all learners.
MAKING BEST USE OF SPACE AND TIME– Schools are often hamstrung by their schedule and calendar. They are forced to chunk time in a way that doesn’t allow learners to deeply engage with issues and concepts. At Bennett Day, we believe that the best learning requires space, time, and freedom. Our school calendar is divided into trimesters, allowing students to participate in a wider variety of learning experiences, and our school schedule is a living, flexible document that can change based on the needs of the learner, not the needs of the institution.
PERSONAL LEARNING-Bennett Day School puts our focus on personal learning, that is, the type of learning that is meaningful, personal, and real. Each learner creates a digital Learning Plan at the beginning of every school year in collaboration with their advisor and family, and cross referenced with what they’ve already completed on our competency map. That way, we can insure that each learner is getting the essential skills they need while also doing work that is meaningful to each learner as an individual.
ADVISORY STRUCTURE – Advisory is the heart and soul of the Bennett Day School and its core organizational and relational structure. Students meet with their advisor daily and stay with an advisor and a group of fellow classmates for five years, building close personal relationships that last a lifetime. Advisors are the link between the family and the school, visiting the family home and meeting at least once per school year to go over the learner’s Learning Plan with the family.
PROJECT-BASED LEARNING-Bennett Day students participate in fifteen cross-curricular projects over the course of their career at the school. These projects require deep content knowledge across multiple disciplines, rather than individual subjects. Learners apply their project work directly to the world outside Bennett Day, presenting their findings/creations to local businesses and community organizations.
COMPETENCY-BASED ASSESSMENT–Bennett Day doesn’t think learning should be based on how many minutes learners spend at a desk. In order to graduate, our learners must demonstrate over 150 unique skills in 18 different academic areas and have them certified by the school. When a student graduates from Bennett Day, they know their skillset and interests thoroughly, giving them even more options going forward.
PORTFOLIO TRANSCRIPTS-As technology has improved our ability to demonstrate what we know through credentialing, most schools still rely upon outdated metrics to identify a student’s skillset. At Bennett Day school, every student begins compiling a portfolio of their learning beginning at age 3. In the Upper School, learners and their advisors compile a digital portfolio of their learning that provides a quick and easy demonstration of their skills for any future university or employer to view.
AUTHENTIC ASSESSMENT – Students are assessed through public displays of learning that track growth and progress in the student’s area of interest. We bring in experts in the field to help us provide authentic stakes. That means that students will present their learning to someone with real, current knowledge in the field. Assessment criteria are individualized to the student and the real world standards of a project. Students present multiple exhibitions each year and discuss their learning growth with staff, parents, peers, and mentors.
LEARNING THROUGH INTERNSHIPS AND APPRENTICESHIPS–Learning happens everywhere and all the time, and school needs to be flexible enough to allow learning to happen everywhere, especially in the world of work. Bennett Day student learners intern or apprentice with experts in their field of interest and complete authentic projects. This allows gives them exposure to how their interests intersect with the world outside of Bennett Day. Our flexible trimester schedule allows our learners to spend up to ten weeks gaining valuable learning experiences in the quickly changing professional world.
NO SUCH THING AS “EXTRA” CURRICULAR-Because we use a competency-based system, everything that can be applied to our map is relevant. This means that all learning that can be demonstrated is relevant. Whether it happens while playing a sport, taking a dance class, playing a musical instrument, or at camp over the summer, everything can be applied to a learner’s portfolio transcript. There is no distinction between “curriculum” and the “extracurricular,” because all learning is curricular.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT – Bennett Day teachers spend over 200 hours in professional development (PD) each year lead by our Education Team. Our teachers are lifelong learners and embrace continual improvement, not only of their own skills, but of the learning culture of the school as a whole.