learn Finalist / 2019
The Larchmont Model-Teacher Initiative
The Larchmont Model Teacher Initiative codifies the social and emotional learning approach developed at Larchmont Charter School over its successful 14-year history. Larchmont's diverse-by-design, constructivist educational model can reach more kids by defining it first amongst Los Angeles educators and then rolling it out nation-wide. We will train teachers to provide diverse learning environments, dignity in the classroom, and equal access to college education for all students.
Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.
In 2005, Larchmont Charter School was founded by a group of parents who refused to stand by and allow their public schools to falter. They drew upon the professional and cultural resources of their diverse Los Angeles neighborhoods (primarily Hollywood, West Hollywood, Larchmont, and Koreatown) to build a community of engaged and committed families. Now in its 14th year, and successfully scaled up to serve students K-12, the school has responded to the academic needs of its community to become one of the leading public schools in the city (and state.) Further, Larchmont recognizes the importance of academics, social/emotional learning, and behavioral factors for all grades. The school’s constructivist philosophy dictates that every child has a right to build upon his/her/their strengths, and each classroom is a collective of individual learners, not a group that can be instructed to median standards. This requires intensive attention from our educators. In the younger grades, we developed tools to assist teachers in this effort, such as the Whole-Child Check In, where faculty can track student performance in academics and social-emotional learning based on factors beyond test scores–factors that may include learning differences related to cultural differences. This Whole-Child Check In has scaled to our 6th grade, but more work is needed to adapt it developmentally and culturally to the secondary campus.
For the Whole-Child scaling to be successful, our educators must understand that their students’ cultural norms may be different from their own. We seek to educate our faculty about systemized classroom management plans and initiatives, such as eco-literacy and school-wide anti-bullying programs and then build and codify systems for our educators to be aware of how their own unconscious biases may create obstacles for equity in the classroom, and that their students’ awareness of such issues may vary widely.
We have produced three graduating classes so far, and 95% of our students were accepted into college. Most of these students are the first in their families to attend college. We are inspired by the effectiveness of this model and the opportunities it allows our students.
Which of the learn metrics will your submission impact?
- College matriculation rates
- Students’ perceived sense of safety at and on the way to school
- Student education pipeline
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- Central LA
- Our project has an LA beginning and will then reach teachers nationwide.
How will your project make LA the best place to learn?
Larchmont Charter School has begun the strategic development of a multi-tier support system to reach each of the 1451 students currently enrolled in our K-12 school. We need to expand our program to fully turn the philosophy and protocols of this model into a codified, scalable, learning system. Educators, leaders, and board members of Larchmont Charter School believe that every child arrives with different cultural influences and deserves the right to progress with through systems of inclusion rather than systems that discriminate against minorities, those with learning differences, language barriers, or the effects of poverty. All students are met respectfully in our classrooms, with curriculum appropriate for their level, but the need for a strategic, articulated, codified system citing how educators assess each learner, at all grade levels and across four geographically and demographically different campuses and then how educators will offer each student the appropriate universal design for instruction are the core goals this grant will allow us to achieve. We seek to provide this tool not only to our own faculty but also to other educators of diverse groups of students who seek the success this model allows for their own learning communities.
The Larchmont Model Teacher Initiative will develop the elements of the model and train current faculty. It will then further scale the model for success K-12. Once the model is fully documented, a plan to educate other teachers nationwide in how to implement the model will begin. We respectfully request funding from The Goldhirsh Foundation to embark on a 2-year plan to codify our system and educate as many teachers as possible, starting with those in Los Angeles. This plan allows both Larchmont Charter School and Los Angeles to be leaders in this field, and help define a progressive system of diverse-by-design education that succeeds, especially in assisting students from low-income families, students with learning differences and special needs, and English learners.
Year 1 Timeline:
-Deploy grade-level coordinators to collect best practices in The Larchmont Model (such as social and emotional training tools, eco-literacy, Whole-Child Check-in, and more.
-Develop and codify the elements of The Larchmont Model at all grade levels
-Write and edit the model as a publishable document
-Plan, write, and execute survey system with metrics.
-Train Larchmont Charter School faculty at all grade levels so competencies, expectations, and outcomes are clear.
-Continue training (new) faculty and refining model
-Plan and execute workshops and culminating symposium.
-Plan and execute marketing plan to publicize workshops and symposia
-Survey participants and modify/define documents.
In what stage of innovation is this project?
Expand existing program (expanding and continuing ongoing successful projects)
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
Techniques for measuring success will be built into the project. A survey system (before and after participation in our workshops, for instance) will help us track comprehension of The Larchmont Model and its benefits. We also survey stakeholders for their advice and assessments of the curriculum before it is executed.