Teacher Talks: Carl Bellamy, Lower School Teacher

In his years at Calhoun, Carl has taught pre-K through second grade, and has had an impact on countless students. His focus on interdisciplinary learning and emphasis on individualization has laid a strong foundation for Little Calhouners’ educational journeys.

In my classroom, subjects intertwine quite often. For instance, we worked on a project that at first glance might seem like just an art project, but it reinforces the concept of place value, as well as language skills. Another example of interdisciplinary work is our study of different cultural holidays, which incorporates reading, writing and world language.

Carl works with a student in class

Individualized learning is the best weapon we have. One hat doesn't fit everyone. We take the same concept and try to find different ways to meet each individual’s needs.

As an example, in math, if we’re learning addition and a child is ready for more, I’ll change the format or give her a word problem to see if she can read and understand the context of the problem. If she moves through the work quickly, I’ll scale it up more. I want to keep the kids engaged, challenged and stimulated.

Another student may be on the other end of the spectrum, and so we’ll spend more one-on-one time together to reinforce the concept. I have a small group, so I have the time to sit down with a student who may need extra time, and I definitely take advantage of that.

I have a goal for every student and want everyone to meet certain criteria—but not everyone will respond to things in the same way. That's why manipulatives [physical teaching tools such as Cuisenaire rods, models or puzzles] are a big part of what we do—some children can understand a concept audiotorially, while others need the visual stimulation. Learning should be individualized because we’re all individuals.

Teacher Talks is a series spotlighting the educators of Calhoun and their approach to progressive education.