Learn more about a day-in-the-life at The Children’s Guild. Each experience below outlines a full day of the unique environment and experience working with our students at The Children’s Guild.
Read about the Special Education Day School Experience below, or jump to the Group Living Program Experience.
The Special Education Day School Experience
Through describing a typical day at one of our day school campuses and providing an overview of the therapeutic group homes, we hope to give you a feel for what it’s really like to work at The Children’s Guild. As you review the descriptions below, you may notice that some of the positions have been bolded. Due to our constant growth and expansion, we are extending an open invitation for candidates to forward us their resumes for those positions.
One the most important components of the work that we do is found in our teamwork model. Here at The Children’s Guild, the classroom “team” consists of a special educator, (certified or certificate eligible special education teacher), a teaching assistant in select classrooms (college degree preferred), a school counselor, (LCSW-C preferred, or LGSW, or Licensed Certified Professional Counselor-LCPC accepted), and Therapeutic Behavior Aide (high school diploma required) as needed. In addition, students and parents also are important members of the classroom team. Working at The Children’s Guild means that you are a member of a teaching team, and that each day begins with a brief team meeting called a Culture Card meeting. The entire school staff meets for 15 minutes to review the key principles that maintain an effective school culture, share information, focus our minds on what is important and link our efforts on this given day to our strategic plan goals.
The day begins for students as they arrive by school bus at their respective campus (Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Prince George’s). The school administration, therapeutic behavior aides, teaching assistants, resource instructors, and school counselors will wait at the door for buses to arrive. The special educators remain in the classroom, ensuring that the first lesson plan will kick off smoothly. Members of each team greet their students and walk with them to the classroom to get settled and ready to go to breakfast. Supportive staff members are in the halls, ensuring that students manage the many transitions they encounter as the morning unfolds. Starting the day in a positive way makes all the difference for our students. Every morning, each classroom team holds a Community Meeting. The purpose of the Community Meeting is to build positive relationships between the students and staff as well as review the PBIS school-wide expectations and go over the agenda for the day. The morning routine is a flurry of activity. We start with breakfast, then it?s back to the classroom to begin work on the integrated experiential curriculum.
Keep in mind that we have a very nontraditional approach to education. The faculty puts together an experiential lesson plan, which will ultimately be tied to or integrated throughout the entire curriculum. For example, a walk in the garden will turn into an ecology lesson, a science experiment and a geography lesson. By observing and experiencing the habitats of insects that the children encounter, the teaching team can help students to understand ecosystems. Moving to a scientific experiment, students can see firsthand the progression from seed to root to seedling to sprout. Explaining the origin of plants and having a map handy will help students to locate the plant within its indigenous area, creating an experiential geography lesson.
This takes care of the experiential learning piece. Now it’s time for the integrated learning part to begin. The resource instructors, the physical education teacher, the music teacher, the art teacher and the drama teacher take it from there – continuing to teach the same academic concepts in their own area of expertise. The point is to teach and re-teach the same underlying concepts within the contexts of distinctly different learning arenas. The result is learning that takes place because we worked in concert with each other.
In our teamwork model, each member of the team collaborates and participates, including the school counselor, who is present in the classroom “where the action is.” We believe clinical services belong in the classroom, where opportunities to process individually and as a group readily present themselves. Clinical staff members lead the way in addressing issues that make learning more difficult for the students. Additionally, clinicians perform individual therapy as needed and often work extensively with families. Clinicians also make home visits in an effort to address family issues at the core, in the home.
Throughout the day, the speech and language therapists and the occupational therapists work with students in groups in the classrooms and in individual sessions. Both of these related service teams are closely connected to the classroom teams, helping to ensure consistency of messages and values throughout our integrated, experiential curricula. They use state-of-the-art equipment and supplies to enhance the students’ growth and development in the areas of speech and movement.
Our school nurses (R.N. and L.P.N.) always are on the scene to turn any encounter into a learning opportunity for students and staff. Their pediatric and/or psychiatric backgrounds enable them to dispense the “band-aid” in very creative ways. Each campus has the services of a child psychiatrist.
After the morning session is complete, a delicious and nutritious lunch is served that is often unique, international and served to music. Then it is back to the classrooms for the afternoon session. In mid-afternoon, the day school is dismissed and students are taken to their buses with the same TLC (tender loving care) message they received upon arrival.
The overall philosophy of education at The Children’s Guild is best described through our Transformation Education (TranZed) model. TranZed is an organizational philosophy and operating system that is designed to transform a student’s mindset from thinking in a way that results in failure to thinking that promotes success. Creativity and professional development are top principles in our work culture. The philosophy regards every child as gifted, rather than troubled, and it strives to emphasize and encourage his or her unique talent. The concepts of sensory integration and brain-based learning complement the TranZed philosophy.
The Children’s Guild Group Living Program, The Academy, relies on several key premises, which frame our staff mindset for work expectations. These concepts are that group care should be thought of as a normalizing environment, everything in life is interconnected, and children learn best from personal experiences.
- The means of attaining a normalized environment lies in viewing the operating model for the group living program as a private boarding school rather than a surrogate family. This concept requires the staff to view themselves as teachers who are prepared to teach the values and skills associated with successful living.
- Life is interconnected is conveyed by maintaining a setting that fosters growth and development in students through an integrated curriculum. Our curriculum is fully articulated in an operating manual that compels staff to break things down into meaningful, connected lessons. We strive to create productive individuals who can problem solve effectively, compete in society, change problem behaviors and internalize our organizational values.
- Students learn by experiences from a wide variety of program opportunities in our homes, the local community and a broad regional area. These diverse experiences create a safe and stimulating environment in which students can explore and grow alongside staff, who serve as role models.
Group living employees work one of three different shifts, ensuring safe, around-the-clock coverage for our students. These shifts cross weekday and weekend hours to foster relationships both during school days and leisure pursuit opportunities. All shifts intersect at our daily change-of-shift culture card meetings, where staff share information and motivation.
The morning staff begins the day with a positive, bright attitude for a new day. The need to wake up students, prepare them a healthy breakfast and send them to school on time?all in a nurturing manner?is critical to our overall program success. Other duties include transporting students to appointments in the community, caring for our homes, shopping for supplies, caring for children out of school, administering medicine and preparing dinner.
The afternoon/ evening shift is when our staff spends the majority of quality program time with our students. Beginning with a warm greeting when students return from school, the staff encourages, tutors and mentors students with homework and other academic pursuits. Afterward, a transition period occurs to prepare for a family-style dining meal with all staff and students to share nourishment and conviviality. Following dinner, there is program time for town meetings, cultural arts or life skills. Another transition period ensues to settle down students leading up to bed time. Activities during this period would include house jobs, individual hygiene, taking medicine, phone calls home, reviewing student goals, and getting the house quiet and calm.
The overnight shift overlaps one hour with the evening shift to facilitate a smooth transition to a restful night for our students. These staff members have the important role of monitoring the home and every individual student for safety and well-being. In addition to periodic bed checks and administering medicine, these staff members assist with household needs, for example student laundry. In the morning, shifts overlap again in order to wake up students for another day of opportunities and learning.
When the responsibilities of the school week are complete, we prepare for culture, enrichment and adventure-filled weekends that take us all around the state of Maryland. A unique schedule, created for every weekend by the program and design specialist, offers an array of trips and experiences that fill our days and nights with challenge, learning and fun. These experiences support our overall curriculum and values as staff and students travel the journey together. These events might include Native American Pow Wows, the Maryland Renaissance Festival, bike riding or hiking, international festivals or trips to Ocean City. Weekends also have a rhythm for feeling the beauty of simple leisure pursuits such as a sumptuous Sunday brunch, trips to the farmer’s market, going to church or baking.
When it comes to the end of the school year and students and teachers are winding down, our busy season is just beginning. With the students out of school, we gear up for our summer success program. This is a structured, experiential opportunity for each student to gain valuable skills through a broad spectrum of clubs that have a continuous learning curriculum. Youth life educators teach courses such as tennis, cooking, fishing, camping, chess, careers and community service. The exposure to these pursuits, under the tutoring of adults, helps create a broader worldview and increases self confidence through acquisition of skills. At the end of the season, a picnic to recognize activity participation and skill acquisition is held to share student achievements and memories of the summer with family, friends and colleagues.