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Learning and Teaching - Reflections

Everyone Sing! - February 16, 2018

For the first time, we undertook the production of a musical with many of our 4th and 5th graders.  One 5th grade student was not happy during the first rehearsals for our production of “The Lion King”.

- “Why can’t I be Simba?”,
- “I always get a headache after these rehearsals.”
- “We already sang this song.”  

He was often disruptive during rehearsals and was even asked to sit out of one rehearsal, due to inappropriate behavior.  

Yet, it was this same student, during the performances, who became the de-facto dance captain and all-around anchor for the ensemble.  

What affected this transformation?  As he allowed himself to open up to the process, he was given small doses of responsibility. From making jokes to influence his peers, he channeled his influence to encourage the ensemble to improve their performances.  His comments became,

- “They (other actors) are not lining up in the right order.”

In the end, he asked to speak privately with the teacher who directed the show to make a suggestion to encourage the audience to sing along with the students at the curtain call:

- “When we bow at the end, can I say, ‘everyone sing?’”

It felt like the more he saw that we believed in him, the more he displayed his talents.

Self-confidence, self-determination, the ability to change course and think on your feet - these are some of the things that the arts instill in children.  Some of this cannot be “taught,” but only learned through experience.

A rising Tide Lifts All Boats - February 02, 2018
It is vital that we teach our children the importance of community. The idea that a rising tide lifts all boats, is the essence of what we are trying to bring to our student experience.
Recently a young woman in a math class felt compelled to encourage her classmate:
- Tareek: “I just don’t know how to do any of this. I’m just no good at math!”
- Aisha: “That’s not true. You said a lot in class today and led the discussion. Now turn around and do your work.”
Tareek smiled as he turned around and went back to work.
Without being prompted by a teacher Aisha gave her classmate a dose of tough love and a new level of confidence. These small acts of support go a long way to creating a sense of team and community. These are the qualities that will serve our children here and well into their future.