“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
A few random musings while drawing strength and hope from the arrival of spring…
A certain sense of calm and focus settles over the school during MCAS. Administering MCAS in a K-8 school can be a logistical challenge due to the need to test 6 different grade levels. Thanks to the organizational skills and advanced planning of testing coordinator Monica Crowley, all is running smoothly, however. At this writing, we have completed five days of testing with two more days and make-ups to go (Each grade level has two days of testing – with a third day for grades 4 & 7).
In helping proctor small groups who continue working beyond the testing period (MCAS is untimed), I found hope in how purposefully our students approach the testing – reading carefully with a highlighter, making a graphic organizer to plan their written responses, and carefully double-checking their work before handing tests in. Whether you are a fan of standardized testing or not, these skills will serve students well as they continue their studies beyond Lawrence.
Younger Students Surprise
This year, Guidance Counselor Holly Zito, Inclusion Facilitator Maureen Houston, Monica Crowley and I are collaborating to teach a unit on friendship and social skills in each Kindergarten classroom. Last week during a wrap up discussion in KG, I was pleasantly surprised by how much the students were able to recall. Not only could they describe sharing and taking turns (as I had hoped), but some had remembered what it meant to compromise (“Compro – what?” they gleefully repeated a line from a story we had read together.). KF and KG have completed the unit. KC and KE begin this week.
Also last week, during a visit to 1M, students were working on a writing assignment about their favorite thing to do at recess. When I asked students what they were working on, I expected to hear “writing about recess.” Instead, they told me, “We are working on opinion writing.” Knowing the larger goal is an important part of learning.
Around the Horn with Olweus
As part of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, classrooms are expected to hold a weekly class meeting to discuss issues related to getting along with each other. Teachers scheduled these meetings when they choose, but once a month, every class has a meeting at the same time so that all staff in the building can participate in the discussion. On a recent Friday, I made the rounds to five of these discussions reflecting the developmental differences in a K-8 school. In KE, students used puppets to do a role play about how to join a group in the block area and how to make your needs known with words. In 1L, students talked about managing impulsivity (a habit of mind!) and how it applied to recent issues with fooling around in the restroom. In 2G, students did an activity to make a point about exclusion and then discussed some recent issues involving clubs and exclusionary behavior. In 6PC, students discussed the differences in using consensus or majority rule to arrive at a decision. I left thinking about what our leaders in Congress could learn from that discussion. And finally, in a Gr. 8 Advisory, after defining discrimination, prejudice and stereotypes, students began to about what stereotypes exist at Lawrence School. I found hope that our students felt safe enough to participate in this discussion and in how maturely they approached this potentially charged topic.
To paraphrase Rachel Carson, there is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of a school. I, for one, love the work!