How We’re Different
Roots is different because we…
make learning personal
In a traditional school model, students with a wide range of strengths and needs are expected to learn the same content in the same way at the same pace. Roots Elementary will “knock down the walls” of the traditional classroom and leverage great educators and cutting-edge technology to allow students to progress largely at their own pace, learn in the modality that is most effective for them, and enrich the core academic program in ways that ignite their intellectual curiosity. This philosophy is best embodied in The Grove, a large, open space inside of the school where students work on a wide array of personalized projects.
respond to data in real time
Great schools collect data on student learning and respond to it by adjusting instructional plans several times throughout the year. Roots’ innovative blended learning model tightens this feedback loop from 6-8 weeks to a single day. Students who do not master a daily objective receive targeted remediation the same day.
empower students to make decisions
Most schools that succeed with low-income populations have highly structured and compliance-oriented learning environments. This structure may be necessary for pulling students out of the “crisis of basic skills,” but these students regularly struggle when they enter more unstructured environments after graduation.
At Roots, teachers direct students through their personal learning plans at first, but gradually empower students to design it themselves. By the time students graduate from Roots, they will have years of practice directing their own learning. This will be an invaluable skill in college and the world beyond.
push students to be creators, not just consumers
In traditional schools, students are primarily consumers of their education. At Roots students are not only empowered to design their schedules but they are given the space and the tools to be true creators. They are coders, structural engineers, sewists, chefs and filmmakers. In addition to extending core STEM skills, the “Maker Space” at Roots nurtures the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.
leverage community assets
Our job is not to “fix” a community but to help it leverage its many assets in service of our children. Community members are called on to share their expertise in our Maker Space, the Roots Senior Corps reads with students and admires their creations and local businesses contribute food to family learning nights.
extend the reach of great teachers
By unbundling the core responsibilities of a teacher, our staff is able to focus on what makes them great and reach more children with their unique talents. For instance, each student has a Learning Coach who develops deep relationships with kids and families, helps them set goals and individual plans and then coaches them through the execution. Then there are content specialists focused solely on delivering world-class instruction in their focus area.
We support our master educators with technology solutions, paraprofessionals, volunteers and teacher residents who take the more basic instructional and administrative tasks off their plates. This allows us to offer extended learning time to students while allowing teachers to maintain balanced personal lives, making Roots a high-impact and sustainable place to build a career as an educator.