Maybe you noticed that this blog hasn’t been updated in a few weeks? Just asking for a friend. This is the time of year when it is very hard for me to stay focused. It seems the busier I get, the harder it is for me to actually accomplish important tasks. I’m seeing (and fearing) the same for my kids too. If I can’t get away with mailing it in until the end of the year, neither can they. As a focused school employee—and motivated parent looking for ways to support my less than motivated student—I consulted with our Upper School Learning Specialists Anne Sellon and Kathryn Roessler, on how to survive thrive through the end of the school year.
Young children are like sponges—they soak up every bit of learning and can't wait for the next drop. At the Lower School, we continually assess the best ways for our students to learn and grow, based on current research, experience, and the expertise of our faculty. As the Director of Lower School Math, I lead the initiative and provide support for our mathematics teaching and learning. I love developing and thinking of creative ways for our students to engage more deeply in mathematics.
I am always looking for ways to provide meaningful learning experiences where students solve problems, explain their mathematical thinking, and communicate their ideas. Here are ways for St. Stephen's and St. Agnes students to engage with math beyond what we're teaching inside the classroom.
I sat down with a recent graduate of St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes who is currently studying English with a concentration in creative writing at the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. I asked Caroline to respond to three specific questions. Below are notes from our conversation:
Me: What creative writing experiences were you part of at SSSAS? How were you supported?
Caroline: I came to college with a strong foundation in writing thanks to my teachers at SSSAS who pushed me and encouraged me to write more. I specifically remember sophomore year in Dr. Klein’s class, when we compiled quarterly journals. Dr. Klein encouraged us to include creative writing. I submitted a creative essay about an epiphany I had experienced, and when I read it aloud in class Dr. Klein said it sounded like the work of someone who reads a lot. (She was right!) In all my English classes there was a combination of critical and creative writing, and I felt fortunate to exercise all parts of my brain throughout my high school career.
Show me how you use your time, and I will show you what you value.
Historically, efficient and maximum use of classrooms was what drove school schedules. It wasn’t about student learning; it was about making sure two classes weren’t in Room 23 at the same time. In the last 50 years, school schedules have instead focused on student learning. Accordingly, as our understanding and knowledge of student learning continues to evolve, so should school schedules...even if Room 23 has been in the same place the whole time.
A hallmark of St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes is our tremendous faculty. Their expertise and experience keep us focused on the student experience and how the program is best delivered. Over two years ago we began the process to review our schedule and be sure it still had students and how they learn best at its center. This has been a massive JK-12, school-wide initiative that affirmed much of what we were doing brilliantly as well as let us build and capitalize on that to reallocate our time to reflect our values and our approach to education.
So, how will that look next year for our youngest Saints in Lower School? Just a very few highlights of this exciting initiative include: