Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back To School Night: Grace, Courtesy, Respect, and Responsibility...

Last night was Back To School Night at Sj's new school. Most of us know what that means, sit around reading handouts, listening to the teacher talk about what their vision is for the year. As new parents not knowing one another the group is rather awkward. Typically I anticipate a handful of questions from one parent in particular, some that just smile, and others that want to ask but don't muster up the courage. We chat briefly making mention of our children, wondering in the back of our minds if our children play together.

This Back To School Night was different. My daughter's new school is different. A large part of the conversation was about being a part of a community, a classroom community not rigid academics or curriculum. The first words in the handout about "a day in class" are Grace, Courtesy, Respect, and Responsibility. The class is opened with greetings, followed by singing while Sj's teacher plays the guitar, and then stretching in a Brain Gym style to waken their minds and bodies to prepare for the day. Students have individualized work plans and goals for each day. They are given the support to take charge of their own learning. The teacher uses terms such as "great lessons" and "key experiences" to describe how learning takes place in the classroom. 

Wow. 

Very lucky for me, my daughter loves school. She's focused when it comes to school work and loves learning, so this style of education is a fit for us. Everyday since starting school, she comes home and during snack time at the kitchen table she has her two spiral notebooks out working on math or writing. I have some Math Linking Cubes in a basket and she's been using them to build groups (visual to represent the number) and create addition problems that she records in her notebook. She's exploring and through that exploration she's also learning which is a wonderful combination in my book. 

We arrived home from the meeting and were decompressing about the night. When I say decompressing I mean it in a wonderful way. There's a lot to take in considering Sj's education will so starkly contrast our own experiences and even my experience as an elementary school teacher. The overwhelming consensus, we feel so lucky for our daughter to finally be attending a school that allows her to be who she is. There isn't going to be heavy pressure to conform to the mainstream ideal of what education should look like. Her learning style will be nurtured. 

There aren't enough ways for me to express my gratitude in how this all unfolded, even with the struggle of the open enrollment process. I can't help but wish for any parent that their child's school and education really provides a place for them to be authentic to their own nature. If you have doubts about your child's school, be their advocate. 

Even though I miss Sj through out the day, I know she's at the best place she could be away from our home and that's her loving school community. 

6 comments:

  1. Wow that sounds like one amazing school...your daughter is very fortunate indeed to attend such a school. Lucky for your whole family, really! How awesome!

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  2. I'm jealous. My daughter was in the waiting pool for an awesome magnet school that sounds similar to this, but alas, no spot opened up. I heard 3rd grade is a hard time to get into this school, and next year may be better.

    Her current school is fine. But I want better than fine for her. Frustrating.

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  3. Her school sounds amazing and I'm sure it'll be a great year for her. :) - MH

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  4. WOW! This school sounds like the perfect fit! I want to go there.

    I just bought some of those math cubes...thanks for the suggestion.

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  5. What a refreshing approach! Goodness, that was a breath of fresh air. I am SO excited for Sj and your family. This is a wonderful school. I can't wait to hear more about her progress...this is fantastic!

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I always appreciate the gesture to stop and take a moment to comment. Thank you!