Smart is notAll the Ways to Be Smart by Davina Bell
Just being best
At spelling bees,
A tricky test.
Or knowing all the answers ever…
Other things are just as clever.
Every hour of every day,
We’re smart in our own special way.
And nobody will ever do…
The very same smart thing as you.
You have probably heard of book smarts. Even street smarts and people smarts. But have you heard of nature smart? Or music smart? How about word smart?
At Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA), we believe that all kids are smart, born with their own unique set of gifts. Our job is to affirm, stretch and celebrate the unique gifts we are all given–from book smart to number smart and everything in between.
At the beginning of each school year, AACA teachers empower our K-8 students to uncover how they are smart. The goal is to help students shift the question away from “am I smart?” to “how am I smart?” We begin this work with self-reflection, a study of the brain and by diving into the Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
Self-Reflection & Self-Awareness
The journey of self-discovery at AACA is focused on a reflection of personal interests, strengths and personality traits. Our students spend time observing their own behavior and answering questions about things they enjoy doing, what comes easy, and what things are challenging. They work with their parents and teachers to identify strengths and struggles in all areas of their lives: heart, mind, body, and soul.
In a student-led parent-teacher conference following this self-discovery period, students share what they’ve learned about themselves and challenge themselves to grow – or stretch – their skills. For example, a student may choose to learn to play an instrument, participate in the school play, or improve their reading fluency by learning 100 sight words.
Even in kindergarten, AACA teachers begin to explain how our brains work. We include the biology and mechanics of the brain. Our brains do so much for us – from recognizing objects, to problem-solving, to processing emotions. Understanding this from a young age can help demystify learning and everyday habits we never think about like breathing and digestion. Knowledge is power when it comes to ownership for our bodies, our actions and our lives.
The Theory of Multiple Intelligences
Our work at AACA is deeply based on Harvard professor Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
The Theory of Multiple Intelligences explains the different ways we learn and express our innate intelligence. We explore ways that we can learn new concepts, paying attention to which type comes most naturally to us and which types are more challenging. No person has just a single intelligence—we are a beautiful combination of all the different ways to learn.
Here are a couple of examples of the multiple intelligences in action:
- Someone who has strong interpersonal skills may learn best when working with a partner or team.
- A person with strong linguistic skills may be a word-smith or skilled at picking up new languages.
- Someone with strong kinesthetic abilities may learn sight words better if they do jumping jacks while they spell words out loud.
This philosophy is so important to us that we’ve even installed the 8 symbols in the courtyard of our new building. It’s also tied in with our mascot and kite philosophy. Affirming, stretching and celebrating our smarts is a huge part of who we are.
Boosting Knowledge & Confidence
AACA teachers use this new-found knowledge to boost student’s self-worth and confidence. Teachers incorporate the different ways of learning into lessons, being sure to vary the way new information is presented for all types of learners. We look for ways to draw out individual talents and recognize students for their unique contributions, while not ignoring areas that may need more nurturing and stretching.
Understanding ourselves also helps understand others. When our students uncover all the ways they are smart, we notice an increase in empathy toward classmates. Everyone is smart in their own way!
AACA celebrates all the ways we are smart. We believe our individual intelligences are gifts that bring color to our world and teach us that we can accomplish so much together. How are you smart?
Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Located in Paso Robles in a newly built, state-of-the-art facility, AACA is open to all students from all communities. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids!