Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How High Meadows Staffers Communicate When They Need Help

What follows is an email exchange between Middle Years English Teacher Meddie Finnegan and Technology Integration Specialist Mitch Novy. Meddie's Activboard was acting up and she was requesting Mitch's assistance. This is how the interaction went down...

Dear Mitch,

I have the Activboard blues. This time the keyboard won’t work. Here’s a little song I wrote about it – for your entertainment.

I have the active board blues
I feel it in my shoes,
A keyboard that won’t work
Mr. Calibration is a jerk.
The hard drive, she is fussy –
A deep hibernation hussy,
And a pen that was on the lam
Really left me in a jam
The active board blues -
Oooooh, the active board blues –

Whoooaaa whooooaaaa 

Dear Meddie,

Here is a rap version of my response:

Yo, my name is Mitch and I’m here to say
I don’t want you to feel dismay.
Activboards can be a useful tool
But when they don’t function, you look like a fool.
I’ll bring a new keyboard from our stash.
That old one you have belongs in the trash.
I’ll check the board’s pen for you, Meddie,
We’ll get you back to being happy and ready.


Needless to say the problem got fixed right away.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Experiencing Forgiveness

I overheard something extraordinary in the Early Years Building this morning (I don't usually slink around surreptitiously and eavesdrop on our teachers and students, but I couldn't help it this time).

A teacher was seated on the floor outside of her classroom with a young student. From what I could glean, the student was not getting along well with one of his classmates. 

"She keeps bumping into me and she knows she's doing it," said the student. "She did it last year too and it makes me mad."

After guiding the student to think of his own strategies to improve the relationship, he sat quietly. "Are you OK with this?" asked the teacher. "Something tells me that you're not."

Her heartfelt sensitivity to the child's feelings opened him up right away. "I just don't think it's going to stop," he said.

"Do you know what it means to forgive?" the teacher asked. "I like to think of people as lumps of clay. We can be molded and changed, and we are never the same. It's possible to change and be different shapes over time. So if you give her time and space, you might notice that she has grown and changed too."

The student sat quietly, presumably pondering what the teacher had just said. Sensing that she needed to go a bit further with him, she said, "You know, bad feelings about someone can weigh on your heart like a boulder. It can actually make you keep feeling angry if you don't let go of that heavy boulder."

What a lesson! The teacher, demonstrating natural intuition and compassion, engaged the student's trust as he shared with her his honest feelings. She guided him in coming up with his own strategies. She then used metaphor, a powerful teaching tool, to illustrate the nature of change and the ill-effects of holding on to resentments.

I hope the outcome is as strong as the lesson, but the lesson itself will stay with this student for a long time. I know it will stay with me.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Light in Her Eyes

"Our kids LOVE going to school now."

"My four-year-old asked me about which planets have rings."

"The light in her eyes is on again!"

Over the past week, I have started each morning by having breakfast with new families and listening to their stories. The quotes above are just a sampling of observations about their children's responses to High Meadows.

Of the three quotes, the third one (or variations thereof) is probably the one I hear the most often. 

As parents, we know that light. It signals discovery, joy, love. We look for it every day and celebrate it when we see it. We also know the pain of seeing that lack of light, which we interpret as boredom. Lack of engagement. Resignation. 

For me, hearing that a child's eyes are illuminated is the highest praise possible for High Meadows and what our teachers do so well. They create an environment in which children feel invariably comfortable and confident. They encourage them to play and to question. Our teachers show respect for children as fellow human beings with a thirst for learning. And our kids love them for it.

Our great wish is that our children will continue to shine that light. As a beacon of light always does, it draws us in and guides us. May each child's light show other children--and all of us--the way to a full, joyful life.