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Exeter? Ask a teacher

PEAteacherPEAteacher Posts: 314Registered User Member
edited April 2012 in Prep School Admissions
Congrats to those of you who got into Exeter! If you have questions about the school that you'd like a teacher to answer, please post them here. I've been teaching at Exeter for a while, but I've also taught at other schools. One request: Don't ask me about admission/"chances"/financial aid; I'm not involved in any of that and can't help you.

Disclaimer: Anything I write about Exeter is only my personal opinion and does not represent the views of the Exeter administration, trustees, faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, pets, or resident squirrels.
Post edited by PEAteacher on
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Replies to: Exeter? Ask a teacher

  • italianboarderitalianboarder Posts: 762Registered User Member
    Can I ask what you teach specifically?(Science, Math, Language, ect.) Are you a Coach or a Dorm advisor in addition to being a teacher?
  • PEAteacherPEAteacher Posts: 314Registered User Member
    Anonymity is one of the premises of this board, and there aren't that many teachers at Exeter, so I prefer not to answer questions about me. If you ask me questions about something I don't know about, I'll let you know. I can tell you that I do coach and do live in a dorm and serve as a dorm adviser.
  • xoxohersheykissxoxohersheykiss Posts: 428Registered User Member
    what do you think freshmen struggle w/ most when they first come in? is it the workload? the homesickness?
  • californiadreamscaliforniadreams Posts: 38Registered User Junior Member
    As a repeat sophomore I would love to know how repeat students are treated. Will I be taking junior classes?...How different are the rules between the two grades? (lights out, Internet, dorm check in, etc)
  • principalviolaprincipalviola Posts: 2,418- Senior Member
    What do you think of the Harkness method? It was one of the "magnets" that really drew me to PEA. I love the roundtable teaching idea... Also what makes the Exeter Harkness superior to other schools Harkness ideology.

    On a side note, do you believe a Harkness method prepares me for a college classroom environment? Reason I ask is, I overheard my parents (both of whom were educated at large ivies) who believe such a table does not prepare me well for a lecture style class.

    I, however, disagree with their concerns. I love the ideology, but I would like to see what you have to say...

    From what my interviewer (alum) told me, Exeter is ALL Harkness/roundtable. Does such a format lend it self well in science based classes? I know that labs will be done elsewhere, but won't a blackboard + chalk be an easier method of teaching in such classes? Even math, to an extent.

    I also would like to ask how Exeter lends itself to a flexible scheduling process, ie. required courses, courses above my age level, etc. My interviewer, sort of, dodged this question. When I enter (Grade 9) I will be ready for either Precal or AP Calc, does this system lend it self to such jumps.

    By the way, welcome to this community of overachievers (well... I am sure, being a teacher at a school of such pedigree, you are used to overachievers... By the way, I am an exception)... I am glad you joined us and I hope you feel the same.

    EDIT: I would like to know a little about those squirrels...
    EDIT II: PEAteacher, if you PM Roger Dooley or another super mod, you will be able to earn a specific rank... People will know you teach and it will be helpful.
  • PEAteacherPEAteacher Posts: 314Registered User Member
    It really varies. It depends a lot on the school you're coming from and your personality. Some preps (9th graders) fit right in; others go through an adjustment period. Getting used to the workload and managing time effectively is often a challenge, but one that most kids deal with successfully. At Exeter it can also take a while to get used to Harkness (the discussion system). But there are a lot of people eager to help you along. Just remember not to be shy about asking for help.
  • PEAteacherPEAteacher Posts: 314Registered User Member
    (My answer above was for xoxohersheykiss)
  • principalviolaprincipalviola Posts: 2,418- Senior Member
    From an academic standpoint, as that is your specialty, what differentiates Exeter from other top schools. What is that "bang" that you guys have!?

    From the other schools I was accepted to, I see little delta in the courses offered. Of course that is not close to enough to base a decision on.

    Edit: My interviewer answered that question as "The Harkness Method". And however amazing it is, I do not believe that, in itself, is enough to differentiate between top schools; such as PEA. Many of the other top schools offer such a method, though it is not as widely publicized.
  • PEAteacherPEAteacher Posts: 314Registered User Member
    As a repeat sophomore I would love to know how repeat students are treated. Will I be taking junior classes?...How different are the rules between the two grades? (lights out, Internet, dorm check in, etc)

    Generally speaking, if you're a lower (sophomore), you're a lower and do everything as a lower. Your teachers typically will not know that you're a repeat lower (it does not show anywhere; only your adviser knows). Of course, if you've already taken certain classes, you'll be placed into higher-level classes. This is common at Exeter. Because kids come in with different backgrounds, the class that you take is more often determined by what you've already taken or already know than by your class year.

    In terms of rules, you can look them up in the E book (http://www.exeter.edu/documents/EBook.pdf). Lowers check in at 8:00 and must be in bed by 10:30 (in theory); uppers (11th graders) check in at 9:00 and don't have a bedtime. Everything else is just about the same.
  • italianboarderitalianboarder Posts: 762Registered User Member
    Why did you pick Exeter?(Not why you pursued a teaching career, but why would you pursue a job at Exeter).
  • principalviolaprincipalviola Posts: 2,418- Senior Member
    Why wouldn't he! :P

    Good question though... I, too, would like to know the answer to that.
  • PEAteacherPEAteacher Posts: 314Registered User Member
    What do you think of the Harkness method?

    It's the reason I teach here. I had options and I've tried other systems. At the end of the day, I think Harkness is the most effective. Nothing gets you to THINK and learn as much as being involved in a conversation. "Listening" to a lecture isn't comparable.
    Also what makes the Exeter Harkness superior to other schools Harkness ideology.

    I know that other schools do Harkness but don't know how theirs is different from ours (if at all).
    On a side note, do you believe a Harkness method prepares me for a college classroom environment? Reason I ask is, I overheard my parents (both of whom were educated at large ivies) who believe such a table does not prepare me well for a lecture style class.

    It's certainly true that there's very little Harkness in college. But you don't do Harkness because it prepares you for college; you do because it's an effective way to learn. It'll take some adjustment when you get to college and have to sit in a big lecture, but, trust me, you'll be able to handle it. Exeter graduates do just fine in college.
    From what my interviewer (alum) told me, Exeter is ALL Harkness/roundtable. Does such a format lend it self well in science based classes?

    Yes, I think it does. Keep in mind that Harkness doesn't mean that you don't use the blackboard or that the teacher NEVER talks. But the approach is to give much more of the responsibility to students. You'll be surprised how much you can figure out on your own and with your classmates without first listening to a lecture by the teacher. If you revisit, be sure to visit a math or science class.
    I also would like to ask how Exeter lends itself to a flexible scheduling process, ie. required courses, courses above my age level, etc. My interviewer, sort of, dodged this question. When I enter (Grade 9) I will be ready for either Precal or AP Calc, does this system lend it self to such jumps.

    Yes, I'd say that there's a lot of flexibility. I have prep advisees who are taking 11th-grade-level Math classes. The Math department will place you in a class that's a good fit (and if it's not, you'll be moved).
    By the way, welcome to this community of overachievers (well... I am sure, being a teacher at a school of such pedigree, you are used to overachievers... By the way, I am an exception)... I am glad you joined us and I hope you feel the same.

    Thank you. I've actually lurked on CC for years.
    EDIT: I would like to know a little about those squirrels...

    They're quite opinionated. They have little Harkness classes up in the trees...
    EDIT II: PEAteacher, if you PM Roger Dooley or another super mod, you will be able to earn a specific rank... People will know you teach and it will be helpful.

    I emailed the administrator a long time ago to ask for the "seal of approval," but nobody ever replied.
  • PEAteacherPEAteacher Posts: 314Registered User Member
    From an academic standpoint, as that is your specialty, what differentiates Exeter from other top schools. What is that "bang" that you guys have!?

    I do think that Harkness is a key difference. Not because other schools don't have discussion classes, but because at Exeter it's used in ALL classes and it really represents a learning philosophy. Other than that, I think that trying to prove that Exeter is "better" than Andover or Deerfield is generally silly. They're all great schools. One of these will be a better fit for you.
    Why did you pick Exeter?(Not why you pursued a teaching career, but why would you pursue a job at Exeter).

    Harkness. Classes averaging about 12 students and with a "hard cap" of 13 (another advantage of the table; you "physically" can't have more than 13 people around it). Great students. The diversity of the student body. Great colleagues who are really passionate about teaching. A large endowment that allows the school to do great things (including giving out a lot of financial aid, which makes for a more diverse student body). The boarding aspect. The proximity to Boston. These come to mind.
  • italianboarderitalianboarder Posts: 762Registered User Member
    Do you ever feel that a portion of students(no matter how small that portion is) do not take advantage of the experience/squander the opportunity? (This could be in your class or in general.)
  • peteyapeteya Posts: 28Registered User New Member
    could you please let me know what you consider to be most distinctive about the culture of exeter?

    for those worried about Harkness and preparation for college there is a simple solution - go to Oxford or Cambridge. :)
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