Thursday, March 17, 2016

When a Child Graduates from your School, What Do You Hope They Know?

When you think of the total program your school provides, what is it that you hope children will know by the time they graduate, and how do you contribute to that?

This would be a great question to discuss as a faculty.

As I begin to think about this, the following objectives come to mind.

Belonging and Importance
I would hope that every child leaving our school would understand that they belong to this world we live in and that their life and work is important. Who they are and what they do matters.

Social Competency and Team
I also hope that every child develops strong social/emotional skills and outlook so that that they are able to work with others with good manners, respect, communication skills, and care for one another. Further, I hope that students will learn to work as valued and contributing team members.

Academic Foundation
I hope that students leave us with a solid foundation of math, reading, writing, social studies, science, music, technology, art, and physical education skills, concepts, and knowledge so that they can continue to learn with success and confidence. Currently the Common Core guides our work in this regard as well as a number of State and systemwide standards.

Learning-to-Learn Routines and Attitudes
I hope our students will leave us with the belief that everyone is capable of learning and the positive attainment of learning-to-learn skills and attitudes that will pave their path to successful learning throughout their lives.

I hope that our students will recognize that personal happiness is a national goal as we teach students to embrace "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and that the "pursuit of happiness is a worthy goal'--one that every person has a right to. I hope we set the pace in this direction through lots of happy, fulfilling experiences at the elementary level.

Problem Solvers
Through experience and learning, I hope that students begin to learn how to solve problems big and small on their own and together with educators, family members, and classmates.

The Arts
I want students to both experience the arts and interact with the arts through music, visual arts, theater, dance, film, and other arts areas.

Physical Fitness and Health
I want students to learn in a healthy environment with heathful activity and habits.

Stewards of the Earth
I was reminded of this as I read about Mr. Musselman's terrific science work in Burlington, MA. We do some similar work in our school, but I for one, need to continue to beef up this area of the curriculum by learning more about our school-wide recycling, gardening, and naturalist study. Our students will inherit this Earth, and it's important they learn about that responsibility and possibility early.

As I read this list, I recognize that a big part of achieving the the elements above is to model those elements. As educators, we need to continually take our own advice and move towards enriching our knowledge and experience with respect to academic foundations, learning-to-learn habitudes, social competency, collaboration, the arts, problem solving, and physical fitness and health. Similarly we have to contribute towards a sense of belonging, confidence, and happiness for ourselves, our colleagues, students, and their families. If we live and teach well with one another we will lay the path for students to do the same.

What would you add to this list? What else is important for a top notch, meaningful elementary school education? I will use this information as I reflect on the learning program for the rest of this year and the year(s) ahead.