Instructional Foundation

Our gifted teachers are at the core of the transformative education provided at Benchmark School and The Seven Pillars of Benchmark Instruction provide the overarching framework for all that they do.

The teachers at Benchmark are widely recognized by students, parents, receiving schools, and visiting scholars as being exceptional. Their unparalleled level of expertise in teaching students who learn differently is a reflection of their deep commitment to excellence and innovation.

Benchmark faculty and staff work with renowned experts in cognition, language, psychology, and education to hone their skills and translate the latest research into cutting edge practice. They attend seminars, conduct research, publish articles, present at national conferences, and train other teachers in the U.S. and around the world.

While Benchmark teachers continually evolve in their practice and adjust their approach to meet the needs of their students, their instructional decisions are consistently grounded in a research-based instructional framework that distills the most essential components of a Benchmark education. The flexible, creative, and collaborative implementation of this framework is at the root of the success of our graduates in high school, college, and beyond.

The Seven Pillars of Benchmark Instruction

(1) Build Motivation, Confidence, and Engagement

All of the knowledge and skill in the world does not matter without the motivation and confidence to put those capabilities into sustained action.

Consequently, our first and enduring priority is to create learning environments in which students want to engage and expect to succeed with strategic effort.

(2) Cultivate Clarity and Focus

We teach students strategies that promote clarity and focus, which in turn help facilitate attention, communication, stress reduction, resilience, and overall performance.

(3) Foster a Flexible and Inquisitive Mindset

If we believe knowledge and personal qualities are fixed, we perceive the world in a rigid fashion and our actions reflect this orientation.

However, if we understand knowledge and personal qualities to be open to change, we perceive the world in a flexible fashion, which is an orientation that supports such qualities as open-mindedness, empathy, creativity, persistence, and resilience.

(4) Teach Strategies for Thinking and Problem Solving

We immerse our students in strategy instruction to equip Benchmark graduates with an extensive array of tools in their mental toolboxes.

Technology provides students with digital tools that extend their capacities, facilitate their functioning, and enable them to rethink what is possible.

(5) Establish a Well-Structured and Generative Knowledge Base

An expert’s knowledge differs from that of a novice in that it is organized around central ideas that facilitate understanding and memory.

In that regard, we help students develop conceptual frameworks around big ideas that help them organize their thinking within and/or across domains, creating a well-structured knowledge base that promotes critical analytic thinking.

(6) Advance Social and Emotional Understanding

Research suggests that EQ (emotional quotient) is ultimately more important to success and happiness than IQ (intelligence quotient).

Our methods help students understand their own and others’ emotions and learn to manage their emotions effectively.  We also help them develop an understanding and appreciation of social conventions in our culture and others to facilitate productive collaboration and communication.

(7) Develop Executive Functioning and Self-Regulation

The development of executive functioning and self-regulation are at the core of our curriculum and involve planning, organizing, holding and manipulating information, maintaining focus, being reflective, and flexibly integrating and applying the knowledge and strategies to successfully address complex situations.

We help students develop a thorough understanding of their own strengths, challenges, and tendencies as well as an appreciation of what works best for them.

When I came to Benchmark, my teachers individualized things for me and saw what worked and what didn't. Being here helped me gain the confidence I need to both do schoolwork and to contact teachers and ask for help if I need it. My time at Benchmark helped me grow in every major way.
Anna Lodge, Benchmark '13, Great Valley High School '16,
attending Rider College