In order to accomplish this mission, Roots’ model veers away from the traditional structure of grouping children by age and start date, and instead groups students, referred to at Roots as scholars, based on their specific needs. Scholars spend their time working in small or large groups with teaching fellows and coaches for various scheduled activities that are flexible and responsive to their needs.
Roots’ Teaching Fellow, Leksy Wolk, shared more information on Roots’ model and the first week in the classrooms. When asked to explain more about Roots’ structure, Leksy emphasized that scheduling scholars in small and large groups helps to focus on students specific needs. For example, when scholars are not scheduled to work in a small group with a teaching fellow, scholars can instead work at a center, such as the library, writing center, maker’s space (engineering projects), or flex space (teacher designed activities), with a personal coach. Coaches are also teachers, but focus more on social and emotional development. Coaches also provide scholars more interaction and learning time when scholars cannot be directly working with a teaching fellow in a group. This model also helps emphasize Roots’ values, known as GROW—Grit, Relationships, Ownership, Wonder.
Leksy shared her favorite part of the first week, which came during a shout out circle where scholars are encouraged to shout out other scholars for positive behavior. Leksy shared, “It was surprising in the best way how articulate and intentional five and six year olds can be. One scholar said, ‘I want to shout out my friend for paying super close attention and tracking the speaker when we were learning how to write like Roots scholars.’”
Leksy also shared why she works at Roots and why she works in education:
“I work in education because I firmly believe that all children, regardless of their socioeconomic background and zip code, deserve a rigorous education that prepares them for the world around them. Education, as it stands now, greatly varies in quality based on your school and district. Society functions when adults function and are active within it. Empowering people to be active in their communities begins with giving them the right skills and tools to act, and this begins with a strong education.”
To learn more about Roots Elementary, check out their website here.
Roots also intends to connect with the community by bringing community member volunteers into the school. If you would like to get involved, contact Roots here.
You can also donate to Roots here and check for job openings as the school expands in coming years here.
Images from RootsElementary.org