In the BASIS Independent Manhattan classroom, subject matter is designed to inspire, taught by a Subject Expert Teacher (SET) who creates a learning experience students can connect to, engage with, and excel in. In this classroom, another teacher is present as well, a Learning Expert Teacher (LET), who hones in on each students’ strengths and areas for improvement, and who works to ensure they are achieving their full potential while having their needs met.
We call this dynamic learning environment the BASIS Symbiotic Classroom, home to the SET/LET relationship.
What is the SET/LET relationship?
Unlike the traditional self-contained classroom in most schools led by one teacher, or one teacher and an aide, at BASIS Independent Manhattan, students in grades 1–4 benefit from the expertise of multiple full-time teachers. This relationship results in a classroom environment rich in both subject expertise and pedagogy, which places the students’ needs front and center.
The SETs’ area of expertise is their sole focus, allowing them to concentrate on creating engaging, thought-provoking lessons for all the grade levels they teach. They use their passion for their subject to inspire students to connect with higher-level content and encourage topic mastery. Our primary students have a SET for Math & Science, Humanities, Mandarin, PE & Sports, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Music, and Engineering.
LETs are responsible for a class of students who are all in the same grade. A LET for a second grade class, for example, will stay with that class all day and is present in all their subject classes led by SETs. Because LETs are with their class all day, they can effectively track how every student is doing in each subject, where there may be challenges, and then provide customized support as needed when an SET is teaching. This also allows the LET to keep a close eye on a student’s personal progress and overall happiness.
How is this model different from other co-teaching classrooms?
We asked Grade 3 Learning Expert Teacher, Ms. Annie Woo, to share her perspective on this distinct dynamic: “While the SET is teaching effectively and is on track with the lessons, the LET is able to ‘fill in the holes’ by fully supporting emerging students without having to hold back peers who can keep up. With the LET giving proper intervention and enrichment to the small group of emergent learners, the SET feels safe to deepen the breadth of learning for the majority of the class that can speed ahead. This balance keeps 100% of our students engaged, challenged, and learning.”
Ms. Woo points out that they are offered extreme flexibility in how they lead the classroom as well, saying, “Many schools have the co-teaching model, but not with the academic freedom that BASIS Independent Schools give us. I believe that’s key to collaborating freely and deeply with each other. The LET and the SET are allowed to infuse more fun and engaging activities into our daily lessons. . . This level of freedom manifests to other amazing qualities that we share as a team.”
Why does this model work?
At its core, the SET/LET model minimizes distractions and maximizes learning. According to Ms. Woo, “It works when two teachers are able to set similar goals, have similar teaching philosophies, and complement each other’s teaching styles to enhance the quality of the lessons.”
Ms. Woo expounds on working with Math & Science SET Ms. Yang, and emphasizes that experience and communication are key to their success in the classroom. “Ms. Yang has been working with co-teachers for over 13 years and I have been collaborating with teachers for seven years. This level of experience definitely reflects our flexible personalities and teaching styles. To understand that we can intuitively supplement and support each other’s weakness is a huge plus. We are able to nurture each other to grow as professionals by having open lines of communication, sharing a common understanding of our children’s needs, putting an effort to create and modify action plans to fulfill those needs on a daily basis, and by forgiving each other’s mistakes.”
At BASIS Independent Manhattan, this SET/LET relationship is at the heart of our goal to instill a lifelong love for learning in our students. We are endlessly grateful to our incredible teachers who help make this goal a reality each day.
Curious to learn more? Join us for an upcoming information session on Thursday, May 3rd and hear more from Ms. Woo and Ms. Yang about the BASIS Symbiotic Classroom!
If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team at (347) 305-4960. Additionally, we are currently in a Rolling Admissions Cycle. If you would like to apply today, please fill out an online application via our website.