Life feels back to normal at Evergreen after being closed for Hurricane Sandy. We are so fortunate that the storm left the DC area unscathed. Children came into school today ready for the predictability of our routine. We quickly regained equilibrium. Teachers told me that there were no discussions of the recent storm in circle time nor were there conversations on the playground or at lunch. I appreciate our parents’ care shielding their young children from media images and news reports. Pictures of burning homes or waterlogged streets can be disturbing to old and young alike.
The lack of discussion of the hurricane doesn’t mean children have not been affected. Some children may have relatives in New York or New Jersey. Some may have anxiety about another storm. Children are deeply aware of stress in the adults who surround them. Please be ready to talk to your child about the storm. Let them know that being prepared is the key to safety. Fire drills, tornado procedures and our emergency plans are in place to ensure that we are safe at Evergreen. Most of all listen to their worries and reassure them with love.
Please speak to your child’s teacher if he or she seems worried, too. It helps us so much to have insight into what you are seeing at home. We can also point to additional resources to support your child. I am so glad that everyone in our community is safe– let’s not wait until Thanksgiving to appreciate all of our blessings every day.
Our new Thanksgiving card went to the printer today. I hope I am not sharing the image prematurely (it isn’t even Halloween, I know). What a great project for our Nest class. And what a great use of Montessori pin punching, too.
Children worked together and found inspiration from Matisse, Calder and the recycle bin to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
Another brilliant Nest collaboration!
We are so fortunate to have the creative minds of Ms. Tobin and Ms. Michael to support our students’ vision!
It’s an annual highlight: each year we invite parents to share their international experiences with our children in 20-minute classroom presentations. Presenters can bring artifacts, share personal experiences, picture books, photographs, maps, music or even a special food with students.
International Children’s Day is an important way we celebrate the diversity in our community. This year we will wrap up the event with an assembly in the gym. Ms. Garry has prepared a song for the whole school to sing together. Then we will close with a performance by an African drumming troupe.
Central to Evergreen’s mission and identity is respect for the worth and dignity of every person. It directly follows, therefore, that Evergreen is committed to the ideals of equity and diversity in all aspects of our program and community. We seek to be a diverse community of many voices and experiences.
Our global education curriculum and our commitment to equity seek to provide sufficient perspective on the diversity of human experience so that students come to appreciate the complexity and interconnectedness of the world around us.
A little less than a year ago, I wrote my eleventh blog post about classroom observations in a Montessori school. At that point, I had been working at Evergreen for only three months. The “Montessori Way” was still new to me. I was not used to seeing children making choices in the classroom, learning by doing, moving quietly around the room and discovering answers to their own questions. I was amazed by what I saw at Evergreen. It was so joyful. I had to share my reflections; I had to Blog.
How time flies.
Today, for the first time in months, I visited a traditional public middle school. Out of respect, I will not mention the name of the school—it’s known as one of the best middle schools in Maryland. It’s a place filled with good kids, smart kids, ambitious kids.
I was in for a surprise. After one year at a Montessori school, I had forgotten the texture of a school day in a traditional school. My first observation: the children were polite, obedient, and self-possessed. Students raised their hands to answer teachers’ questions. They opened their books to page 73 when asked. They stood up quietly when the bell rang. No one was loud, rowdy or unruly. It started as a pleasant morning.
Until… my second observation: where was the passion for learning? I can hardly believe the lack of energy I felt. Sure, students were passively well behaved. But classrooms lacked the vitality that I am accustomed to. You could see it in the students’ body language. No one craned forward or perched at the edge of her seat. Heads were lazily propped by hands and elbows. There was no buzz. There were no animated conversations—just a muted tennis volley: a teacher lobs questions at her students, and they lob back, one at a time, with a hand raised. How I wished for Maria Sharapova’s grunting. Sharpness.
My school, Evergreen School, a Montessori school has changed me. A few years ago, I might have complimented this school. Well-behaved children, well-managed classrooms– once this seemed like an extraordinary achievement. But now, how I appreciate the energy and enthusiasm of children who feel ownership of their learning! Joyful children. Passionate children.
Schools should be as alive as childhood itself. Learning is an active, energetic endeavor. Isn’t it?
What makes a great school?
To me, there are just four fundamentals: The first essential: passionate teachers who strive to understand and meet the needs of each student. These are Evergreen-type teachers who consistently create an environment that is supportive, challenging and safe. They are more than experts in their field; they are compassionate, patient and understanding.
The second essential: engaged parents who participate in the life of the school. Again, Evergreen-type parents regularly visit the school, participate in family playdates and coffees, attend ESPA meetings and lend a hand at school functions. Thank to our parents for enthusiastically giving us their time and your talent.
The third essential: a vision for education that aligns with our modern understanding of how children learn and develop life skills. On this measure, our Montessori philosophy supports current research in education and emphases a holistic approach to learning that is proven to be successful. The fact that our system of education allows children to learn in a natural way, free from coercion, is why their is so much joy here.
And the fourth essential: open, honest and frequent two-way communication. From parent coffees to parent association meetings, to newsletters, observation days and conferences, our goal is to let our parents know what is happening at school– and hear how their children are doing at home. Its a two-way road.
There are more qualities that are important in schools, but these four: great teachers, engaged parents, a guiding philosophy of learning and communication are key.