Notes from the Summer Institute, Part 1

Late August is one of my favorite times in schools.  The building starts to shine. The repairs are completed. Brand new manipulatives, crayons, craypas, books, and paper arrive and the lobby fills with boxes. The big ideas and planning of the summer turn into the daily reality of children and families, of teaching and learning. In this way, 241 Water Street came alive last week.  We began with our new faculty members on Monday, and were joined on Wednesday by the entire staff and returning faculty. Each  day begins with a Responsive Classrooms morning circle led by a teacher -- each with a Blue School spin -- and they have already moved from celebrations of wonderful summer moments, to thoughtful reflections on our best moments with children in the past, to hopes for what is to come.  What began as a group of people fresh from the summer has become in just a few days, a professional, collegial community.

Most vibrantly, this week our first major studies of the year emerged. This year, our students will be studying, among other things: the biology of plant life and the impact plants have on our lives;  the nature of work and play in children now and in the past; the culture, history, traditions and practicalities of food; how humans make buildings; the incredible stories of the people of our South Street neighborhood as it has changed; the histories of our families; the systems through which decisions are made in the US (do rules make the community or do communities make the rules?) as the election comes upon us, and more.

And the ideas keep coming from our energetic and super-smart faculty: a "picnic basket" of ideas and questions passed from classroom to classroom to share the work of each group across the school, systems and structures for improving our common spaces as children begin to own and plan for them by grade level, and a quilt of ideas and themes created by our faculty as their studies evolve.  The energy is palpable, and we know it will be even more so as the children arrive and complement our ideas with their specific curiosities, wonderings, and passions.

Best of all, we have another full week together! Stay tuned...

Posted on August 27, 2012 and filed under Uncategorized.