November 10, 2011

In The Middle Of It All

Solar panel math in the 1st grade
Earlier this week, Friends’ School hosted its first ever Annual Trustee Day, when members of our Community Board spent time in classrooms and in discussion with our staff and faculty imagining a bright future for our school.  This is the first of two reflections exploring this great opportunity.

The favorite part of my day is always spending time with the children in classrooms – seeing what they’re working on, talking to them about their ideas, listening to them explain their thinking.  I’m a big guy in a nice shirt and a tie and I imagine I must look a little funny sometimes crouching down by a five year old.

So you can imagine my delight at wandering through the classrooms on Trustee Day finding business people in their pressed suits doing the same thing.  Many of our Trustees were in casual clothing, but there were a few in nice shirts and ties, getting down on the floor with the kids learning alongside them.  One of my favorite scenes was entering Jenn Shouse’s 2nd grade class, hearing the squeals of delight as children designed teeter totters, using the principles of levers, adjusting the position of the fulcrum, and seeing one of our Board members, in a suit, right in the middle of the action! 

By the way, did you know that that it’s possible for a slight 2nd grader, weighing in at approximately 50 lbs, to raise all 6’2” of me off the ground with a simple machine? A moment of triumph – and levitation for me!

Another favorite scene was seeing Trustees engage with Erika Norman’s math lesson in 1st grade, where students were using geometric attributes to design their own solar panels.  All our elementary classes are using the excitement of next week’s Flip The Switch ceremony to think about renewable energy and to connect with the concept of solar energy.

As Trustees later reflected on their day, they remarked on how fantastic an experience it was to be in classrooms, on the diversity of our teachers’ teaching styles, on the exceptional classroom management they witnessed, on the deep engagement and passion of the kids, on the quality of the children’s work.

Another time, I will share with you the wonderful dialogue that staff and Board members shared about the essential skills that kids need to be successful in the 21st century.  We are very lucky to have such engaged, engaging, curious, and brave stewards for our school.

1 comment:

shelpaw said...

Though I don't often get to see all these great things in action, it is remarkable how much of what we have been talking about over the last year or two with the strategic plan is coming true: solar panels, technology boost with iPads and document cameras, even the weekly Happenings that I'm reading and commenting on. So much is going in...integrated in the classrooms and diligently shepherded by administration, staff, parents, and the Board. Thanks everyone for helping this to remain the dynamic school I've loved for 17 years!