Foundations of Learning in Lower School

Head of Lower School Michael Simpson talks about the learning that takes place in Greenhill classrooms during the first week of school.

What a wonderful beginning we have had! In the first three days of school, I estimate I received 300 high fives, 150 hugs, and a million smiles. Our first assembly was August 29, and it was great to have whole Lower School together, singing and welcoming our new community members.

Your child may have described his or her first day something like this: Sit around learning rules. Teachers do spend much of the first week setting up classroom rules, identifying materials, defining expectations, and showing the students the structure of their year.

But there is something else going on too. Visiting the classrooms those first few days, I saw another kind of structure-building going on. I listened to classes discussing the characteristics of leadership with their teacher—very thoughtful conversations. I joined a group of math problem solvers and we went from table to table trying to discern reasons why other students had grouped geometric shapes. I dropped in on a science class kicking off the year by reflecting on and discussing the question, “What is Science?”

Just as they are taking time to help their students learn their new surroundings, different routines, and new expectations, the teachers are taking the time so set up conceptual frameworks through which the students will inquire, learn & apply new skills, and develop comprehension and understanding. All of it is connected within what we call curricular “essential questions.” This broader perspective gives greater meaning and context to the skills our students learn and the thinking they are engaged in. As we progress through the year, the teachers get to watch the light bulbs go on as connections are made and comprehension deepens as everything comes together.

So, we welcome back our students with joy as we have once again begun working on the foundations of learning that are the focus of Lower School.

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