Sitting down to write this blog today, I find myself wanting to express thoughts about my passion for educating students with learning disabilities, the joy of teaching, and being part of those “aha” moments when a student finally breaks through and is able to not only understand a concept but to synthesize understanding and even transfer their knowledge to other meaningful moments of discovery. I yearn for our discourse to reflect the values, purpose, and mission of The Craig School and our conversation filled to the brim with the excitement of a new school year and the rich possibility that accompanies new beginnings.
Nonetheless, at the forefront of my thoughts this week is an article I recently read comparing the national current educational climate as a see-saw of balance between Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Bloom’s Taxonomy, an educational theory on the hierarchy of learning that begins by first remembering, then understanding, followed by applying, analyzing, and evaluating information, finally culminating in the production of new or original work, called the creative stage of learning.
Teachers are busy polishing lesson plans, writing learning targets, and creating engaging and meaningful learning opportunities while also fully cognizant that a student’s basic needs must first be met to allow for learning to happen, to prime the pump, if you will, for the most optimal learning experiences moving a student to the realization of their full potential. On a very basic physiological level, our students need food, water, and shelter. In this basic level Maslow includes safety. According to Maslow, safety is the experience of order, predictability, and a sense of control of one’s own life. It is at this crossroads where I, along with countless educators find myself as we prepare for a new year full of learning and growth. We are balancing the real-life issues of the present unknown with our plans for bringing out the best in all of our students.
Planning for our school opening on September 3rd, we are remembering “Maslow before Bloom.” At The Craig School, this is evident through the preparation of our classrooms and play spaces for healthy and safe learning environments that address not only the present need for sanitization, disinfection, and appropriate health measures for the mitigation of COVID 19, but it is also through the intentional work and focus of our team of Social Clinicians who, partnering with our faculty, foster key tenets of social and emotional health leading to safe spaces for students and safe spaces for learning. These social-emotional aptitudes and skills, such as self-awareness and self-confidence, emotional regulation and stress management, respect for others and empathy, social engagement and relationship building, and finally, ethical responsibility and reflection, create what researcher Amy Edmondson calls “psychological safety” and are necessary to cultivate so that our students’ strengths, capabilities, and intellect can shine. Providing for Maslow before Bloom provides a path to fulfill The Craig School’s mission to address the academic, social, emotional, and moral growth of students with language-based learning disabilities.