Friday, January 6, 2012

Words of reflection and bringing in the New Year!

Welcoming in the New Year – I am overwhelmed by all that I have learned in the past 3 months in starting this school. It is one thing to read, research, form theories and another in putting it all together in practice and action.
I wish so much I could have taken you with us on this journey – experiencing children as they learn and grow with freedom and nature as their guide and teacher. Vanessa and I have humbly taken back seats as we bask in the simplicity of teaching children.
No Grades = No Fear
This is my first time experiencing a gradeless teaching environment. I have always seen the harm in grades from promoting and nurturing low self-esteem to creating a stressful competitive environment and a feeling of not being "good enough." Grades add little value to a child or their parents.  The negative backlash of a point system has always been clear and motivating. Now sitting on the other side, I can share the beauty and success of creating a “no grade zone.”
I have seen that when fear is eliminated, children very naturally and enthusiastically challenge themselves. They are motivated to take on their own personal weaknesses and do so with confidence. That confidence is buoyed with support, guidance, and love of a teacher who only sees success.
Another inspiration given to me by our children is their ability to thrive in every way you can imagine in nature. Again we can all agree that children in nature is natural and good. But here I had to jump out of my comfort zone and become an observer. I found the more I stepped back, the more magic I observed. Without structure or expectations children who are given quality extended time in nature with freedom to explore it, climb in it, dig in it, observe it – become explorers, scientists, adventurists, seekers of treasure, finders of fossils,  to name just a few. What they teach me through their observations and experiences, well simply blew my mind.
How exciting it is to be able to share with you these truths:
Freedom and Love promote untold:
Intellectual growth and development
Physical comfort and expression
Spiritual journeys and awareness
All of this is easily seen in the eyes of a child given this new paradigm in education. They sparkle with happiness.