December 11, 2015

posted Dec 17, 2015, 4:45 AM by Kurt Gergler

Hello Families, 

We are having an assembly next Friday. The reason this one has captured my attention is that it was created by many staff members and will include all students. The result of this group effort sounds wonderful: we will all sing and dance and small groups will make instrumental music, recite a poem or lip sync. There will be seasonal music and nonseasonal music, if you get my drift. It will be a fun celebration of performance. The more children perform the more they build confidence, which we think is a great thing! The more we get together the more we build community. We think community builds character! The more people's opinions are valued, the more people share great thinking. We think thinking is just keen!

This inclusive, room to think approach, is common at BES. In all the classrooms I hear children sharing their opinions, I hear adults asking children to explain their thinking and I hear children describing their work. As I move about the building I am approached by children that wish to share their ideas about the school. When I pose questions they thoughtfully respond. Allow me to share some examples:

In a kindergarten classroom the children were asked to represent the number eight with markers on a ten frame (eduspeak for little round magnetic plastic pieces and a metal backed white board with a grid of ten squares, five squares on top of five squares). They then had to share what they did. One child shared that you need two more than eight to make ten, so he left two squares empty. Then they were asked to show five and a girl said that ten is made up of five and five so she only filled in one row.

Two fourth students visited me in the office to share about a third child's behavior on the bus. The two were not happy with the third. After they explained what happened and answered my clarifying questions, I asked them what they would like to happen. At this point I generally expect the child to say, "For it to stop". But, they said they will talk to the child and see if they can get the child to stop. They stated that they would get back to me on the result and off they went.

In a third grade classroom a teacher asked a fairly complex question relating to a reading passage. She let four, five, six seconds pass. Seven, eight, nine seconds. Ten,, have you ever stood in front of a classroom full of students and asked a question that was met with eleven seconds of silence? Can you imagine? Count out eleven seconds. It is a long time to have a question just hanging in the air. At the twelfth second a student responded and no one seemed phased.  Had the teacher not waited, the children would not have had adequate think time. But, the big message here is that the children knew that they will get the time they need to think, and respond. It is the thinking, not the quick answer and not an I don't know answer.

In another third grade classroom the teacher had set out very interesting materials for a science lesson. Before she even touched on the content of the lesson she allowed the students to explore the materials. She knew that exploration builds curiosity and helps children make connections. She knew that children will be curious even if we tell them not to be - and we tell them not to be curious by telling them stuff.

We invite you to ask about your children's thinking and reinforcing effort over product. A simple, "Wow, you must have worked very hard on that!" or "How did you decide that?" goes a long way to communicate the concept of valuing the child over the child's ability to make something beautiful or coming up with the right answer. We need to move to a point where children value process over product. Nothing can stall a child's creativity more than the worry, "Is this the right answer? Am I right?"

The BES family does a great job of helping children learn the three Rs. We consistently bring a high percentage of students to an on or above grade level. We have layers of support for those children that learn in a different way or at a different pace. We have identified that many children will only flourish after their other skills are supported.  We also know that all children achieve at a higher level when they believe that effort and thinking matter.

I hear the weather will change to winter at some point. Button Up New Hampshire will hold a home energy saving workshop at Baker Free Library on Monday! This is short notice. Here are the details:

When: December 14, 2015 Time: 6:30-8:30pm 
Where: Baker Free Library - 509 South St, Bow NH 
Who: Home Owners and Small Business 
Why: Very Educational - Learn to decrease energy usage and costs. 
Cost: Free - Supported by Bow Library and supporting organizations.

Workshop Information and to Register:

Check further down for other exciting  news!

Keep in touch!