Thursday, April 30, 2015

Vulnerability, Creativity, Innovation - let's get ready for the real world!

I think the mainstream expectations at schools are generally about performance and 'preparedness for the real world'. 

The real world is not a high stakes test. The real world is full of problems that require collaboration, persistence, and real empathy. 

I forget how unique it is to see students freely pursuing creative and rewarding work, and how different that can be from a 'typical' public school. We live in a school culture that is counter to the mainstream. We ride up against mainstream expectations each day. 

Take a moment and view this video from social researcher Brene Brown:

This week was typical at Great River  - I saw students ages 8 to 16 playing together each morning, teaching each other,

"Write an uncensored letter to fear, from empathy"

At the end of a school day this past week, I received a text message from one of our in-house substitute teachers. He is new to Great River this spring, and has subbed in every classroom at least once this past month. I thought everyone in our community should get to feel the reward of his assessment. Below is the message: 

" There are incredible things happening at great river, I'm impressed daily by the creativity, expansiveness of vision, and health and vibrancy of the students you're serving.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring returns, and reminds us that resilience is a persistent and gentle force

As the spring returns, and I see so much growth and success for students at Great River, I am reminded that resilience is truly a persistent and gentle force. Coming out of the winter snowcover is never a single day of warmth - it is a persistent turning of the earth, relentless pushing of a sprout, a slow change that can feel at once endless and fleeting.

Spring and the return of life happens not when we demand, but without us - our job is to witness life and find our place within the cycle.

My use of metaphor here is intentional - poetry, metaphor, and natural cycles sustain me in putting our work as a school in context. We are coming out of a winter that has challenged us in sorrow, mourning, and resilience. I have seen our students and families bind together in support and care for each other, and demonstrate the kind of loving support that helps us heal from wounds.

As I've mentioned before, the school is a living organism. We are coursing with life and growth and sprouts of brilliance each day. It has been several months since my last post in this blog format. I will return to the blog again this spring with a clear goal of sharing the moments of gratitude I experience each day at Great River.

Some amazing successes for our school this spring:
  • our student-planned Identity, Race Awareness, cultural education day (IRACE) was a huge success -featuring a panel of workshops and speakers that was truly worthy of national recognition for the level of respectful dialogue and engagement through the day. Our mission as a school of peace and peaceful relationships was echoed throughout the day. 
  • our robotics team won the state competition! (they are currently competing in the international competition in St. Louis!)
  • two of our students made it to the top 12 of the statewide poetry out loud competition
  • 5 students of our graduating class of 2015 (over 10%) have been offered full academic scholarships to selective colleges, and over 90% of our seniors have been accepted to colleges.
  • a parent organization is formed, meeting, and sustaining independent momentum!