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Our Approach

Buffalo Commons uses a unique blend of research-based practices and innovative programming to eliminate gaps between students and promote the creative and collaborative skills that students need to be successful and strengthen their community.

Key Design Elements

We uphold our commitments to academic success, creative problem-solving, and collaboration through the research-based components of our program below.

Academic Excellence

Academic excellence is the synthesis of rigorous curriculum, effective instruction, and the use of data to adjust instruction to meet students’ needs.

Curriculum: BCCS provides a rigorous curriculum that is demanding yet accessible and engenders both content knowledge and critical-thinking skills. Our curriculum is briefly described below:

  • English Language Arts: EL K-5 excels in utilizing quality texts, building knowledge, ensuring standards alignment, and supporting both struggling students and those needing more challenge. 
  • Math: Bridges Math is highly rated for providing focused, rigorous, and aligned curriculum that is practical for teachers, as well as engaging for students. Its mix of direct instruction and hands-on activities are successful with a wide range of students.
  • Science: Science Alive! is aligned to meet state standards and uses proven teaching strategies and a hands-on approach to achieve consistent, positive results. 
  • Social Studies: History Alive! is aligned to state standards in social studies and literacy. The learning activities are varied, including collaborative and experiential learning opportunities. 

Effective Instruction: Teachers use instructional strategies from sources such as Teach Like a Champion that deliver successful results. Additionally, teachers are partnered in collaborative teams to plan, teach, monitor student progress, and manage classroom culture, which improves targeted instruction for students. For example, we can use parallel teaching, one of Marilyn Friend’s models of co-teaching, allowing instruction to specific subgroups within one class. 

Inclusive School Culture

Core Values: We create an inclusive school culture and help students live RICH lives by promoting the core values below:

  • Respect: We appreciate each person through our words, actions, and attitudes. 
  • Integrity: We act and speak with honesty, fairness, and thoughtfulness. 
  • Curiosity: We are eager to learn, question, and explore. 
  • Hard Work: We put our best effort into everything we do. 

Social-Emotional Learning: The school’s core values are interwoven throughout the school year using the evidence-based social-emotional learning program Caring School Community (CSC) to teach specific social-emotional skills and build relationships within the school community. CSC can improve students’ academic performance, increase positive social behavior, and reduce conduct problems. CSC includes several elements:

  • Daily Morning and Closing Circle: Students practice social skills and get to know one another.
  • Weekly Class Meetings: Students address common concerns and current issues.
  • Weekly Home Connection Activities: Students engage in structured talk with family members about the social development focus of the week.
  • Cross-Age Buddies Activities: Students work together in structured activities with older or younger students. 

Student Discipline: Appropriate student discipline ensures that learning is not interrupted, as well as building intrinsic motivation, self-management skills, and appropriate social behaviors. Teachers are trained in classroom management best practices from sources that include CSC and Teach Like a Champion to maintain focused classrooms where students learn from their mistakes. 

Partnering with Families: We encourage family engagement, which can increase student attendance and achievement, and decrease behavior incidents. Importantly, we engage each family with a home visit, to foster relationship-building and to understand the student’s and family’s needs. Additionally,  our families stay engaged through student conferences, newsletters, and workshops.

Academic Enrichment

Every student deserves an academic program that includes enrichment to encourage critical thinking, skill application, and creativity. We provide this in a daily course called CommonThreads, which engages students in learning experiences that address real-world problems and requires them to investigate and analyze their complexities, interconnections, and ambiguities. CommonThreads benefits students academically and motivationally and increases long-term retention of content. It also improves problem-solving, creative-thinking abilities, and collaboration skills, while helping reduce the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and their peers. 

Faculty Development

Pairing students with strong teachers confers benefits that are long lasting and cumulative. We develop strong teachers through structures like Summer Institute, grade-level meetings, and individual coaching. For example, Summer Institute provides two weeks of professional development workshops to review the previous year’s data and school-wide annual goals, and plan and practice for new initiatives. During the year, teachers participate in group grade-level meetings to focus on student needs and instructional practice and are coached individually.

Diversity

We will enroll a diverse body of students with a wide range of socioeconomic and home language backgrounds, as well as varying ability levels, including those needing special education programs. A diverse student body provides ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives that enrich the lives of students. We create an environment of involvement, respect, and connection through diversity in our curriculum, school culture, and school policies. For example, our ELA curriculum is intentionally broad in scope and includes a range of literature that is representative of our student body.