The Community School uses Stanley Greenspan’s DIR Model as its starting framework. DIR stands for Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship-Based intervention and education. What this means is that we are trying to strengthen each participant’s ability to be in sustained, shared states of attention; to interact in reciprocal, emotionally flexible ways; and to be self-reflective emotionally, able to see the world from the perspective of others. In order to do this, we must develop warm, nurturing, and interactively challenging relationships with each individual, and these relationships must be built on individual profiles. That means understanding how each participant processes the world (i.e., sensory and emotional reactivity, information intake and interpretation), and finding ways to connect with each individual through that profile.
Learning of any kind requires that we focus and attend for extended periods of time. It also requires that we interact with ideas, material, and other people. By strengthening social-emotional development, we are making it easier for participants to engage with the world around them in learning-oriented ways. Some of the results of this process should be more abstract, symbolic thinking, an understanding of inference and metaphor, the ability to engage in deductive reasoning, negotiation and the ability to compare and contrast. The primary result should be a more engaged, emotionally expressive, interested and interesting person.
For an adolescent, this growth is the foundation to an active, meaningful education. For a young adult, this growth can lead to purposeful employment and connection to various adult communities. For all of our students and participants, this growth should lead to deeper, more sustaining relationships and a strengthened emotional durability (i.e., the ability to handle the ups and downs of life more successfully).