Friday, December 10, 2010

Note from the Principal

This week on my drive into school I questioned myself as to whether process is as important as content.  It didn’t take long for me to find my answer.  I simply walked into a classroom and arrived at the answer within five minutes.

When I am in classrooms in the morning, I will occasionally join in on the morning meeting.  During the morning meeting teachers use an independent, evidence researched based approach called the Responsive Classroom.   This approach helps students to be successful academically and socially.  It helps students gain social skills such as cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control. The Responsive Classroom also helps create learning environments where children thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.  It is a very productive instructional practice to help implement our Pine Glen School Mission of being a school that creates life-long learners. 

The fourth grade morning meeting I joined was fantastic.  Much like a house will not stand without a foundation, a student still will not learn if she or he does not take intellectual risks.  During the meeting, I witnessed a strong sense of community where students felt and knew they were safe.  In addition, students were learning from each other by noticing and internalizing expected behaviors through modeling.  The great positive language by the teacher and her kind tone were not only establishing a sense of community but promoting active learning and self-discipline.  Students had a means by which they were allowed and knew how to fix and learn from their mistakes in a dignified way.  Students were being creative and responsible.  The wonderful interactions amongst students in an organized structure promoted social and academic growth.  During a 15 minute time period, I saw students learning geography, math multiples, pragmatic language, oral expression, problem solving skills and written expression while simultaneously having a sense that they were part of a community that cared about them.  

This exemplar continued to reaffirm in my mind that Pine Glen School is a special place to learn.  It also confirmed that the greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction and providing academic choice.  Leading me to think that ultimately, process is just as crucial as content. 

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