Me, who am I? What can I do? What are my talents? What are my thoughts? What am I doing with it? What do I want to learn? Who am I in the meaning of we, who am I in the meaning of us? What is my drive?
Those questions are telling you, as a reader, what I experienced in two school visits in New York.
In New York they see a school as a community. A commitment is what you choose for, when you start at one of these schools. At these schools staff of the school, children and parents work close together. When we entered the school is, commitment is the first thing what we saw. The woman at the door makes contact with everyone. Some students even get a hug when they wanted or needed one. Everybody in the school knows eachother, helps eachother and see eachother as they are. A powerful thing that make them to feel responsible for themselfs, the school and the people around them.
The principals and teachers gave us information about their school. You can hear their passion in the way of speaking. After that we could enter every classroom, ask questions and look around.
I really loved the way they work. Teachers have the space, time and feel that they are trusted in the way they are teaching. Their most important view of education is to involve the students in their development. By asking the right questions without judgement, they let the children think about their next step in their development. This next step could be anything. By exploring, making mistakes and give them time, the schoolchildren grow in their confidence, their mindset and in so many other ways.
Concentrated on my learning question about inclusivity, I was really surprised of the way they handle students with special needs. After José told us, the evening before, that there are a lot of children with special needs on their school, I was looking around and I sad to him: ‘I did not notice the children with special needs’. It is so integrated in their way of learning. We need to give those children more space and guidness.
Although both schools were different in their vibe, way of doing things and their priority’s, they both have the same goal. Learning children to be curious, to be creative, to ask for help, to be yourself, to show yourself. They do not think for the children, they let them tell you what they need.
Children have a voice! Let’s listen to them!
Some notices I want to share with you:
- After each lesson the children write down what they have learned and what their next step will be, based on reflection questions. Besides that they do not have any writing paper.
- Patient in waiting for answers given by students. They do not interrupt or fill in the answer, they wait till the student had an answer. If they have no answer, keep asking questions.
- The classrooms and the halls are full of work of the children, a lot of materials and important sayings. The most is all handmade by children.
- Small groups and at least two teachers in each classroom.
- A lot of (field)trips to let students explore.
- Frustration at children is good thing, work with the student through the frustration, so they learn what they could not do before.