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June 6, 2012
Please join BCS staff and students on Friday, June 8, at 3:30PM in the auditorium as we gather to remember our much loved and missed colleague, Mary Downing, who passed away in March.
This week we write to you about the importance of teachers having time for reflection, professional learning and planning.
All for now,
Alyce and Anna
Tomorrow and then again on at the end of June, BCS staff will take time for extended reflection and professional learning. In June, I share with students the importance of the Expeditionary Learning Design Principle, “Solitude and Reflection.” Like one of our 11th grade students said in town hall, “we should look back on what we did well or need to do better, so we won’t make the same mistakes again.” We have so much to do as we reflect on our very challenging year and the many ways we want to improve and grow over time.
As I have discussed with the staff, PTA and SLT, we have recommitted to full implementation of Expeditionary Learning. You can support our work by studying the ELschools.org website. We have shortened our mission statement so it can be a useful teaching tool :
BCS Mission Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies is a diverse and respectful Expeditionary Learning School, committed to developing students and staff who are kind, open-minded, persistent, responsible and courageous. With support from peers, staff, families and school partners, students engage in challenging academic and social experiences that prepare them for college level learning and full participation in civic life. Students learn to apply their intellect and effort to benefit themselves and their community.
We will focus on developing in ourselves and our students these character traits:
A collaborative person is:
Tomorrow staff who have planned and led learning expeditions (interdisciplinary studies about engaging topics. i.e. Physics of Play, Gassing the Geese, How Sweet am I?...) will share with their colleagues how they planned their expeditions, the work their students did, and what they and their students learned. Teachers newer to expedition planning will use this as a foundation for their own work. And... while we are doing all of this, we’ll be thinking about the important challenges of the Common Core State Standards, created to make all students ready for the challenges of college level learning.
There is so much to to, so much to think about, so many ways in which we must collaborate to make the best possible school for your children. Thank you for supporting our effort!
An opportunity presented itself this year on May 14. It was something that I have been wanting since I first started teaching in the public school system: time at the end of the year for the entire staff to reflect and to make plans for the future.
Our Chancellor decided to give schools the chance to select this option because it didn't snow last winter. Hence our schools were going to be in session for 182 days, two more than the mandated 180.
Obviously this plan was devised at the last minute, which is why parents have been given an opt out option. Childcare will be provided for those who need it. As well, because pre-k has already had professional development days, pre-k is officially open. A substitute teacher will cover the classes so our pre-k team can join us in this important work.
So what will we be doing while our students have an early start to their summer vacation?
We will be working together as we review our curriculum and strategize about our big goals and plans. We will be defining our literacy program, relating our benchmarks in reading, writing, and math to our progress reports, thinking about assessment tasks in light of the Common Core, discussing the extended school day, reflecting on our values around sustainability, and even sharing our school's history. All this in two days.
If you are thinking that we can't possibly get this all done, you are right. But we will be able to begin this process, a process that requires time, talk, thought and the sharing of ideas. And this is something that all too often we don't have enough time for in the hectic world of public school.
So, as you lament the unexpected change in plans and as you worry about childcare problems, take a moment to feel thankful for our school. Because this process should be a part of every school. And perhaps one day it will be.
Remember, too, we will be back in session for Wednesday, June 27th, a half day. Why? To eat watermelon of course and to say goodbye, perhaps even, to cry.
Quotes of the Week:
After hearing the actor John Farrell read A Child Went Forth by Walt Whitman, Ella Rindler, a first grade child in Paola’s class, said," It made me feel very small, but in a good way."
Fifth grade student Destiny Garland, in Josh's class, has asked me to change June 27th to a full day instead of a half day. Why? "A half day is not enough time to cry."