Core Idea 5     A Nurturing Culture

Principle Q: Strong and caring relationships

Caring relationships between teachers and their students and among their students are important to healthy child development.  They promote social, emotional, ethical, and character development, as well as cognitive development.  Caring relationships are promoted by small school size(see principle U), by classroom culture, climate, and procedures, by the nature and frequency of interactions, and by multi-year mentoring.

Principle R: Multi-year mentoring and multi-age grouping

Students learn at a pace that suits their learning needs, so grade levels become arbitrary labels.  It makes more sense to organize the students into developmental levels, which include consideration of social, emotional, and cognitive development.  Students stay with the same mentor teacher for a developmental stage of their lives, which typically last three to five years.

Principle S: Motivational learning

When students are engaged and excited by their learning tasks, they learn faster and better, there are fewer discipline problems, and the relationship between student and teacher is strengthened.  Powerful tools for motivational learning include passion-based learning, purpose-based learning or goal orientation, and strategies related to McClelland’s needs for achievement (addressed by competency-based education), affiliation (addressed by cooperative learning), and power (addressed by self-directed learning.

Principle T. Family services

Parents increasingly need a reliable source of information and advice, someone to turn to with questions about parenting, health services, specific social challenges, and much more. Also, an important part of the school culture is that families are valued and supported—they can help the teacher, and the teacher can help them.  Schools have a vested interest in helping families, for without such help, most students cannot reach their potential. Community schools and school community centers are powerful approaches to meeting these needs.