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Teaching Philosophy

A community of young learners who thrive with purpose

An innovative program

based on inquiry, critical thinking and life skills

We believe in research-driven practice and learning-by-doing.  Children at Big and Tiny take the lead in planning and carrying out questions, investigations, proposing explanations and solutions, and communicating their understanding of concepts in a variety of ways.

Four main pillars

Big and Tiny’s approach to learning is founded in a great respect for the child, and a dedication to research-driven practice. Our pedagogy is grounded on four main pillars;  inquiry-based learning, experiential learning, arts integration and Social Emotional Learning (SEL). 

PEDAGOGY

Inquiry

Based

Learning

Social

& Emotional

Learning

Arts

Integration

Experiential

Learning

Inquiry-Based Learning

Finds its antecedents in constructivist learning theories, such as the work of Piaget, Dewey, Vygotsky, and Freire among others. Inquiry-based learning begins with a question, problem or idea. Children take the lead in planning and carrying out investigations, proposing explanations and solutions, and communicating their understanding of concepts in a variety of ways. Throughout the process, children observe, raise questions, engage, experiment and reflect. This trans-disciplinary approach encourages collaboration and can be used effectively across and as a thread connecting all subject areas.

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Arts Integration

​Not only is art a mode for expression and communication, it is also a tool for developing cognitive, physical, social and emotional skills. At Big and Tiny we implement Arts Integration through the entire curriculum and utilize Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) to encourage and facilitate the development of critical thinking and multiple literacies for students as young as 2 years old. Using open-ended questions and imagination-based journeys, we create engaging and personalized learner-centered environments for young children while introducing them to the art world and providing them with the foundations to use their imagination constructively.

Experiential Learning

​We believe learning-by-doing and development of practical life skills are crucial to children’s education. Play is the most fruitful opportunity for learning and growth. Learning at Big and Tiny looks and feels like play, but observation highlights the intentional and consistent integration and cultivation of expressive skills and habits of inquiry. We work with families and circles of support to figure out ways to incorporate these practices and strategies beyond the classroom, in home and community settings, so that your child approaches their future with curiosity, hope and a belief that learning is fun.

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Social Emotional Learning

SEL refers to the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions. We provide strong school-family-community partnerships to establish learning environments and experiences that feature trusting and collaborative relationships, meaningful curriculum and instruction, and ongoing evaluation.

 

Teachers at Big and Tiny

To support the development and implementation of Arts Integration in the classroom, Big and Tiny has brought a stellar team of Master Teaching Artists specializing in various creative arts. These teaching artists' specialties range from music, theater, photography, creative writing, movement, visual arts and more!

 

The combination of the master teachers and master artists in every classroom allows us to create the appropriate environment for collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. Teachers spend one-on-one time with each child, guiding them toward self-directed activities, which helps children develop self-discipline, independence, and self-discovery. Teachers are facilitators or co-learners and should challenge themselves to mostly ask questions and, in particular, ask questions to which they themselves do not know the answer. 

 

Teachers will:

 

  • Recognize opportunities and initiate inquiry through a question, problem or idea

  • Encourage children to theorize, hypothesize and wonder

  • Provide opportunities for children to become more confident and autonomous problem-solvers and thinkers

  • Support students by breaking up more complex tasks into smaller chunks that they can manage

  • Design and organize learning experiences that can be repeated or referenced, and that lend themselves to active engagement in purposeful learning

  • Generate data collection, analysis, portfolios, and exhibitions with students’ work

Students at Big and Tiny

Big and Tiny has a child-centered curriculum that positions the child as an active participant and provides students with many options for exploring the environment. Children initiate the inquiry by posing factual and exploratory questions based on personal interests and experiences.

 

Students will:

 

  • Work as researchers—inferring, hypothesizing, predicting, investigating, experimenting, and recording

  • Use their skills in decision-making, planning and problem solving

  • Reflect, rethink, and reframe their questions, problems, or ideas

  • Share new learning with others and plan for future learning

The Learning Environment

The classroom environment at Big and Tiny is designed with multiple workspaces to allow students to work individually and in small or large groups. Our goal is to provide children access to a varied selection of resources and materials so they can work independently on their projects and gain experience with different ways of working. These are some of the areas within the classrooms:

SCIENCE
STATION

PERFORMANCE
SPACE

READING
NOOK

BUILDING
STATION

PLAY
AREA

GREEN
SPACE

TACTILE
CORNER

MUSIC
CORNER

ART
LAB

RUGS, SOFA
AND POOFS

The Learning Journey

Our learning wall is the visual display of artifacts gathered together that represents students’ thinking about different issues and topics. This is, the journey of the group’s thinking and learning over a period of time. Our teachers at Big and Tiny give careful attention to the documentation and presentation of the thinking of the students, which helps them build the curriculum and organize group and individual projects.

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