Last Thursday and Friday, our fourth grade students wowed us with their knowledge of Native Americans. In addition to making model wigwams, lacrosse sticks, cradle boards, drums and more, they amazed us with their words. Ask them a question and they knew the answer.
If you have never been to a BNS museum, check out the African and Mayan Museum, opening next week on February 13th and 14th.
When you see the work in the museums, you might have a moment wondering how it is possible that this is also progress report writing season. In the midst of teaching, our teachers find time to write lengthy and informative progress reports, capturing the story of your child in school. You will be receiving these reports before we go on winter break. Take the time to read and study the reports, keeping in mind that March is the month for parent teacher conferences when you will have a chance to hear about further progress and struggles.
As a former teacher, I do wish I could better explain the progress report writing process. It is an exercise that takes tremendous time and effort, requiring each teacher to document each child’s work. Keep in mind that this work is done after school and that teachers use weekends and evenings to get this done.
This brings me to the art of communication. Over my many years of being an educator, I have seen changes in the ways that parents touch base with teachers. In the old days, parents would either send a note or leave a message asking for a meeting. Today parents use text and email and often, it is hard for teachers to respond to email as there might be as many as a few hundred missives in the Inbox. Remember teachers can’t answer email when they are teaching. For this reason I want to suggest that parents use email to set up appointments or make an inquiry about logistics such as, “Yes, I can go on the field trip,” or “When is my turn to do snack?” Avoid using email to address more serious issues such as behavior, academic concerns or how your child is feeling. Those kind of issues need to be addressed in person. And of course, always schedule a conference for those conversations. Please do not ask about something you are concerned about when the teacher is teaching or when she is with children or even at dismissal after a long day. Please, too, avoid those precious morning moments before the children arrive.
The work of the teacher (and the principal) is huge. It requires one hundred percent focus and commitment to the child. Our teachers love their work and they love your children. They want to discuss your child with you, both his strengths and his weaknesses. The way to do this is by taking the time to do it well, giving at least twenty minutes to the conversation. It is best to plan the conversation and not just have it abruptly in the hall, the yard or the cafeteria.
Here at BNS, we talk often to the children about kindness and empathy and I hope that the words my mother taught me (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you) are still valued. When our teachers come together for meetings, we make a point of listening to each other, and of allowing a range of perspectives, emphasizing our need to collaborate and share ideas and of course, to agree to disagree when necessary. Our school is a democracy full of powerful and conscientious citizens, collaborating with respect and appreciating our individual and communal power. As Hillary Clinton said, “It takes a village.”
All for now,
Quote of the Week:
On the way to busses, Buckminster Carter in Doug’s kindergarten class, caught Johanna’s attention, “Johanna, I’ve got to tell you something.” Johanna responded, “What happened? Tell me.” Bucky answered, “I went to check on the fish.” Johanna repeated, “What happened?” Bucky continued, “ I gasped. Someone went like this.” Bucky modeled dumping out the fish food. Johanna gasped.
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