Grade 10 functions as a "bridge" between the support of the Grade 9 entry year and the increasingly rigorous curriculum of the junior and senior years. Teachers ask students to demonstrate consistency and continue to refine the student skills they developed the previous year, while the curriculum challenges students to think more abstractly and analytically.
In Grade 10, students have increased independence as well as responsibility. Students who are not in class do not have a required study hall to attend; they may choose how and where to spend their free time. Grade 10 also brings an emphasis on teacher-student mentoring, with the expectation that students will use their increased freedom to work closely and proactively with their teachers. Beyond the school, many students this age begin to drive, resulting in even more freedom and the increased need to make responsible choices.
Developmental themes in Grade 10 correspond to the frequent questions students have at this age about identity: “Who am I? Where do I fit in the community? How do I balance independence and responsibility?” Our program intentionally addresses these developmental themes. The required Grade 10 Seminar helps students explore many social/emotional issues and choices, and the Grade 10 retreat focuses on issues of community: both the community within the class and the larger community beyond SPA. Grade 10 is an excellent year for students to find their place in the school community, whether through student leadership and interest groups, drama productions or music ensembles, debate or journalism programs, or athletics.
Parent roles are no less important, but tend to become more “off stage.” Whereas with younger students a parent may have contacted a teacher directly to ask a question on behalf of a student, in Grade 10 we encourage students to take this initiative themselves. Parents may help students problem-solve, encourage students to seek out teachers, help students plan ahead and make choices, and secure support services if appropriate.
On average, teachers assign 45 minutes of homework per class for each subject. We all understand, of course, that some students will be able to complete their homework more quickly than this average, while some students may take longer than the average. Because classes meet every other day, students can (and need to) plan ahead to get their work done for each class. In most cases, students are best served by doing their homework on the night it is assigned, so they can check in with their teacher the next day if they have questions.