The structure of the school day at TCS is attuned to the students’ inherent biorhythms. The most intense and focused learning (Main Lesson) happens at the beginning of the day when the students are most receptive. The afternoons are typically used for outdoor activities, project-based or inquiry based learning, and special events.
We use the "Main Lesson Block" concept from Waldorf Education. It is a theme based 2-6 weeks of time consisting of themed Main Lessons that immerse students in subject matter.
Days begins with the Main Lesson, a two-hour instructional period
focusing on the core curriculum: math, language arts, science and humanities. Lessons
are theme based and always include multiple objectives (at least 2) and are cross-curricular decreasing the compartmentalization of information and increasing
student understanding of how concepts connect.
During this time, a variety of learning approaches are
used to facilitate learning through multiple modalities (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) with
the purpose of reaching the whole-child and all styles of learners. Modalities include, but
are not limited to: direct instruction, cooperative learning, project based learning,
presentations, arts integration, movement, music, technology, hands-on, and nature
For example, during a second grade science unit involving botany, the
teacher may read aloud an informational text about flowers that grow in the desert. The
teacher uses this text to teach adjectives and how to compare and contrast objects.
Later the class may go outside to TCS’s Landscaped for Learning Schoolyard, sit down
with a clipboard and colored pencils to draw and scientifically label local flora, noticing
their smell and surrounding ecosystem. Students may be assigned to think about the plant’s role in nature, thereby capturing the notion of respect for the environment
intended in science studies. Because inquiry is the cornerstone of both math and
science at TCS, integrating both disciplines occurs whenever possible, therefore, the
teacher has planned to integrate a math objective regarding geometry taught through
the studying patterns and geometric shapes that show up in nature. Teachers in the
older grades may use such an opportunity to introduce the Fibonacci sequence paving
the way for higher-level mathematical study. In this way, TCS’s curriculum and
methodology invites students to practice a variety of skills and develop many capacities
in an imaginative and more applied context.
A core feature of the Main Lesson is the making of a Main Lesson
book. Each student produces a Main Lesson book for every block of study. What begins
as a blank journal becomes an individual record of experiences, observations and gained
knowledge, along with hand-drawn illustrations, and written reflection of learned
content. In the scenario above, students draw and label the flowers in their Main Lesson
Book. As a portfolio of work, a student’s Main Lesson books reflect key objectives and
skills a student has learned, while also displaying the student’s inspiration.
Multidimensional, complex and thoughtful, Main Lesson books are an important way in
which learning is expressed and can become an authentic assessment tool for teachers
and a reference for students.
Instruction is typically literature based. This is achieved in
grades k-6 through the National Geographic Libraries supplemented with literature from the Waldorf
scope and sequence.
Taking place after the two hour block, the practice period is when students
receive differentiated instruction according to their individual needs.
Specialty Subjects such as art, music, technology and movement,
support the Main Lesson during the weekly grade level "arts block." This is a 2hr 20m rotation through art, music, movement/Spanish class.