Our amazing class teachers are at the heart of Madrona School!
In our mixed-age preschool and kindergarten classes, a young child can expect to have one teacher for the duration of the program, sometimes over multiple years. This continuity of care is comforting to the young child, and it means that when it is time for grade school, the teacher is able to offer a full developmental picture to the incoming 1st grade teacher.
In the grade school, the class teacher loops up each grade with his or her class through the 8th grade. While not necessarily unique to Waldorf education, "looping" teachers are relatively rare in American schools. A class teacher has been a fixture of the Waldorf grade school since Rudolf Steiner founded the first school in Germany at the close of the first world war, however. Steiner believed that the strong relationship forged between a teacher and a student was essential to a robust education and healthy child development. Students in a Waldorf grade school begin each day and have main lesson with their class teacher, who becomes a familiar and beloved part of their school lives, even while they have a chance to learn from other teachers throughout the day in specialty classes. When a teacher spends this much time with his or her class, the education is truly child-centered, allowing a teacher to bring developmentally appropriate and emotionally engaging education to a constellation of students. Teachers and students build long-term relationships, and a teacher can truly foster community building within a class. It is the essential work of the teacher to know and see each student and to meet them where they are in any given year of their development -- no small task, but beautiful to witness as a parent of any grade schooler could tell you!
--edited from our weekly school newsletter, September 17, 2013 and April 28, 2014.