At Chicago Jewish Day School, we believe in an approach to learning in which all stages of development are celebrated. Each child is a unique individual with their own rate and pattern of maturation. The job of a teacher is to accept each student at their current stage and to facilitate advancement to the next stage.
Academic achievement is advanced through an integrated social and academic curriculum. Research confirms that the time spent on social and emotional learning is earned back in classrooms that run more effectively and efficiently. Social skills are intertwined with cognitive growth and intellectual progress. A person who can listen well and frame a good question, has the assertiveness to pose questions, and can examine a situation from a number of perspectives will be a strong learner. Our social-emotional and academic curriculum foster safe, challenging, and joyful classrooms. All these skills — essential to academic learning — are modeled daily through our social skills program, Responsive Classroom. Responsive Classroom is an approach to teaching and learning that fosters safe, challenging, and joyful classrooms and schools.
Ronit Ripes, a speech-language pathologist teaches students about social thinking curriculum tools they need in order to become a Social Detective.
Social thinking curriculum teaches learners the power of observation, reading context, and interpreting clues to then eventually choose how to respond in ways that meet their social goals. A basic working knowledge of social-emotional concepts gives students and staff a common vocabulary that they can use to communicate together. Students learn to:
- Observe, gather, and make sense of the clues in different social contexts to figure out the hidden rules for expected behaviors
- Understand how we each feel and think about what others say and do in a situation.
- Learn formulas for gathering clues by observing a setting, the situation, and the people in it
- Be empowered to figure out how the social world works through their own detective lens
- Learn to identify feelings and emotions and connect them to behaviors- Understand that all feelings are okay, even confused ones, and we can still learn and grow
- See examples and tips for school, home, and community life
- Celebrate how all of us are social observers who are affected by others’ actions and reactions
Middle School Advisory
Our advisory program for our upper grades is a continuation of the Responsive Classroom approach that we use in our lower grades. When children feel understood, safe, valued and respected, they learn to value and respect others, benefitting them emotionally as well as academically. Advisory offers students a daily routine for students engage in intellectually challenging games, activities, and discussions. It's also a time to address the social and emotional issues of young adolescents such as identity-formation, coping with change, emerging sexuality, the influence of popular culture, and the importance of developing good study and organizational habits. Each student has an advisor who remains with them for their three years of middle school and facilitates their advisory period.
One hallmark of CJDS is our dedication to programming across the grades of the school. We believe significant learning occurs when students have the opportunity to interact with other students, both younger and older. In addition to informal opportunities, our Mishpachot (families) programming promotes a mentoring and cooperative learning relationship between older and younger children.
Students are assigned to a school mishpacha with a faculty member and students from each grade. Together in their mishpachot, students participate in school-wide Shabbat and holiday celebrations, along with set learning times that are built into the year.