Teaching and Learning

Conservatory Lab Charter School’s mission is to provide rigorous academic and music education; enrichment of the larger community through performance, service, and collaboration; and dissemination of innovative educational approaches to other schools and programs. The school’s key design elements are: music infusion, interdisciplinary curriculum, project-based learning, and rigorous academics with high achievement expectations for all students. These design elements are embodied in two interrelated frameworks: El Sistema and EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning).

Project-based Learning: EL Education

Two students who are black using binoculars to observe birds at Savin Hill Cove

There are many programs across the country who do creative youth development, using place-based learning projects with high school students. What makes our curriculum unique is how our team builds in agency for students as young as four years old with inquiry-driven instruction across all grade levels.

To enable students to drive their own learning, Conservatory Lab’s staff model a culture of care and compassion with one another so that students can thrive.

When students feel comfortable they are able to celebrate their strengths, identify needs for support, and trust that the adults in their learning community will help them reach their goals. 

Music Instruction: El Sistema-Inspired Creative Youth Development

Students receive one period of daily music instruction by a group of talented and professionally trained resident artists and interns from local conservatories and universities, and our students’ skills have risen to impressive levels of precision and musical complexity.

Our El Sistema inspired music program is one of the most distinctive programs in greater Boston because of our focus on music as a key to creative youth development within the regular school day empowering students to drive their own creative inquiry.

Conservatory Lab adopted El Sistema as a cornerstone program in 2010; our El Sistema program currently includes seven string orchestras, four winds/brass ensembles, and one early childhood ensemble ensemble that build music literacy, instrumental technique, and critical thinking skills. In K1 and K2, students are immersed in a pre-orchestral early childhood program. Beginning in grade 1 with the introduction of stringed instruments, all students play an instrument and participate in a full orchestra; flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, and percussion are offered as students progress from grades 3 (where they can start on the Venova) and up.

How our Teachers Work: Teaching Philosophy

Our unique approach to curriculum allows teachers to not only teach skills and concepts, but also create opportunities for students to apply their learning to problems in their community. Students participate in FIELDWORK to allow students to learn in an authentic environment. Teams design learning experiences where students work with EXPERTS in the field of their learning to see how professionals approach the same concepts and draw from their expertise. Students make connections from the concepts introduced in class to problems in the real world through SERVICE LEARNING opportunities.