Academics at BLS

Teaching Philosophy

Bronx Lab is a community of learners that prepares students for success through meaningful work and authentic inquiry across the disciplines. We provide students with real opportunities to think, to explore, to create, to solve, to reflect, to imagine, and to dream. Staff is committed to knowing each student well and working collaboratively to support the cognitive and social development of all students.

Student-centered inquiry is the bedrock of the curriculum and pedagogical approach at Bronx Lab. In order to promote self-directed learning and to engage students as partners, faculty work from essential questions to challenge independent thinking, deep investigation, meaningful discourse, and frequent and varied demonstrations of learning. Classes are taught in 60 minute blocks, with an emphasis on project based learning, requiring students to work independently and together with classmates to develop deeper understandings. To sustain meaningful inquiry across the curriculum, faculty members create vibrant classroom environments that feature practices and routines such as:

  • Workshop model, wherein faculty act primarily as facilitators of student learning.
  • Shared rubrics that define the standards of excellence for student work.
  • Learning that results in student portfolios, exhibitions and public presentations.
  • Lessons and activities that are project-based, incorporating experiential, interdisciplinary approaches, and demand critical thinking.

Bronx Lab Instructional Commitments

Faculty and staff at Bronx Lab commit to the active engagement in and cultivation of adult learning through their professional practice.

  • How we think & plan
    • A belief that all students can learn
      • A commitment to studying and learning how to differentiate instruction to ensure all students access the material
    • Measuring student progress and teacher effectiveness
      • Studying student performance on essential skills and habits
      • Building a feedback loop that informs instruction
    • Backwards curricular design: starting with the end in mind
    • Commitment to collaboration among adults, and to peer and self-evaluation
  • How we teach
    • Relationship building with students: Bronx Lab nurtures student success
      • At the heart of teaching at Bronx Lab is being an Advisor
    • Constructivist/Inquiry-based classrooms
      • Workshop pedagogy (do-now, mini-lesson, workshop, exit)
    • Good teaching requires good questioning and good listening
    • Classrooms and student work connect to the real world and are relevant; the city and world are our classrooms
    • Technology is a critical tool for developing student understanding
  • How we assess
    • Gateways that are authentic, project-based assessment in every unit of study that a necessary and sufficient demonstration of mastery
    • Performance Task Assessment Lists (PTALs) that guide student work
    • Rubrics that evaluate student work
    • Portfolio/Public presentations of learning
    • Informal, on-going assessment that drive instructional priorities
  • How we support and nurture our students
    • Build relationships outside the pressures of the academic classroom
    • Advocate for advisees both socio-emotionally and academically
    • Regular & clear communication to students and parents about Bronx Lab expectations and student performance
    • Academic and social-emotional supports through advisory, guidance office, FEGS
    • Support for classroom management and how to talk to students
  • How we support staff
    • Weekly meetings for New Staff to BLS
    • Weekly meetings with Institute for Student Achievement (ISA) coaches for newer staff members
    • Coaches to help with planning and implementation
    • Open door policy to classroom visits
    • Regular visits to others’ classrooms
    • Participation in Bronx Lab’s peer coaching model
    • Commitment to co-planning coursework
    • Active and thoughtful participation in weekly Faculty Gatherings
  •  How we communicate 
    • Use technology to communicate with staff (email, Google Docs, Edline)
    • Update parents on student progress and important information through:
      • Use of the Parent Email Database to send reminders and updates
      • Edline in order to keep tabs on their child’s performance
      • Phone calls home to inform parents of both moments of great performance and also for behavioral infractions