Thursday, February 14, 2013


This morning our faculty got together during a two-hour delay to continue our "assessment work."  We met in the gym and watched a video overview of our middle school's Rube Goldberg challenge from last month.  After the video and a brief reflection from the middle school director, we were asked if we had any questions.  One person made a comment. 

It wasn't me. 

But I thought about raising my hand.  I thought about asking questions.  Why didn't I?  Probably because it felt awkward to pose challenging, ruckus-raising questions from the gym bleachers in front of the whole faculty.  Now I wish I had.

So I'm using my blog as a do-over.  If I could turn back time (sorry Cher) and ask the questions that were bubbling in my mind, here's what they would have been:

  1. This year we devoted two days to the Rube Goldberg challenge in middle school.  The idea began as a two-week J-Term and was reduced to two days.  Next year, will we take the first two weeks of January, as was originally proposed, to provide the time and space for a new challenge for our middle school students and faculty?   If so, who is leading it?  What will it look like?  What do the kids need and want?
  2. We have seen the success of the Day of Play in the lower school and the Rube Goldberg challenge in the middle school.  How will we provide a similar experience for our upper school students?
  3. And the big dog daddy of a question:  How do we move from pockets of innovation to full-scale educational overhaul.  In other words, how do we make our school different?  (I probably would not have really asked these questions, but it is the one that drives me every day as a parent and an educator).
I feel better now.

Next month, in the gym, I will ask my questions.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Remember to Notice the Good...and Climb the Stairs

Today I happened to have an hour unexpectedly become free in my schedule. For a moment I considered going back to my office to check email or work on lesson plans, but I decided to head to the third floor to the land of fifth and sixth grade. Thank goodness I made that choice.

I saw Writing Workshop in fifth grade in its purest, most beautiful form--the students all hard at work on their fiction pieces while the teachers moved around the room having individual conferences.

I also saw sixth grade readers using Glogster to create "posters" to defend their choices for Impact Awards. They were thinking critically about their books and writing precisely about them.

And across the hall I found a different group of sixth graders creating roller coasters, all of them engaged and all of them able to explain what they were building and what they were learning.

Thank you, Third Floor teachers, for these gifts. They were well with the climb.