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‘How much time do you need?’

This morning we were checked (by a very no nonsense security woman) into the building that Central Park East is in. We were welcomed by the failed retiree (three times already) Bruce and principle Gabriel. Bruce was actually the first teacher that started working on Central Park East in 1974. Total population? 13 students. The school has always been kept small by design. The school is project based. There aren’t really lessons like math, biology and crafts. They are all interwoven into one big theme. The classrooms are set up for kids to get what they need to make learning exciting.

I’m not really sure about all the themes, but the 2th and 3th graders were working on theme ‘The neighborhood’ and the 4th and 5th graders had ‘Identity’ as a theme. For the neighborhood kids were actually making store fronts from existing stores around the schools. They even made replicas of stuff sold/made in those stores. For the theme identity children had to make a mind map of themselves. Afterwards it was designing a map of a fantasy land containing the characteristics of them. The final product is a 3D maquette of said land. The children were working with some dangerous equipment such as utility knives, saws and glue guns. We avoid working with certain materials because of the (supposed) mess and here they are just using knives themselves without true supervision. ‘We don’t do for kids what they can do themselves.’

I’ve heard and saw some amazing things during the lessons today. The music teacher was just amazing, I would love to have her come over and teach my kids. And it’s not just the music teacher. I’ve heard some great things being said today. ‘If work get’s tough, work harder.’, ‘Pay attention, otherwise it will impact your learning.’, ‘We’re going to transition at 11.50. What does that mean? Do you start cleaning then? How much time do you guys need?’, ‘Do you hear me speaking, yes or no? You should listen to what I’m saying, it is important for your learning.’, I’m not going to give you a partner if you play. It would be pointless. Then you’d be wasting your time and your partners time.’ and last ‘By calling the answer you took away the ability for ….. to think out loud.’

The way that the teachers and students interact with each other shows that there is a huge amount of trust involved. The children have ownership, the teacher coaches them by asking (the right) questions. By asking questions you make the children responsible for their own learning. There is a lot of positive reinforcement going around. The children can make choices for themselves (like the kid drumming several beats before choosing one).

At the end of the day I was allowed to join some pre-K kids in their discussion about the chicken eggs in their classroom. Each got a chart with the developmental stages of an embryo. The kids had to discus in which stage the eggs were at that moment and what that meant. Little kids were able to explain to me how the chick was going to hatch (by picking out a hole with its beak) and that that was something for birds because other animals, like snakes, had to use their egg tooth to get out. As for the colour the chicks were going to be? Definitely yellow according to one girl. The boy had a different opinion, chicks could also be brown, black or spotted. They were still arguing about that when I had to leave. The vocabulary these children were using shocked me. They seem so very more advanced then our students in the Netherlands do….

There were so many things to see, hear and experience that I don’t even have the words for half of them.

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Reis2024

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2 reacties

  1. I remember how great it is to listen to the conversation of the kids. I think it’s nice that you enjoy that. A little moment between two kids. There is time for these conversations. They see it as an important part of the process. The children are such good listeners, that is a skill they can use the rest of their life.

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