By Michael Simpson, Head of Lower School
I can’t tell you how many times in the last 22 years I have participated in a school meeting that starts with “think of a teacher that had an impact on you.” It happens a lot. Take a moment and do it yourself, now. Why did that teacher have an impact on you?*
It seems that when people talk about teachers who influenced them, they talk about teachers who were tough, or held high standards, or showed them special compassion, or demonstrated a passion and joy for their subject area. They don’t talk about the teachers who very efficiently taught them long division or helped them master the spelling of digraphs.
Maybe this is the year a particular child will learn long division, or finally master spelling of digraphs. Students will learn reading strategies, memorize basic facts, read maps, string together sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into compositions, hypothesize, write computer code, and learn the double clef. There are so many technical aspects of education to be learned over the years. It takes a long time (14 or 15 years!) to get it all. Those are the easy lessons, most of the time.
Yet our expectation is that our students get to have some hard lessons, too. Our teachers hope to make an impact on each child in an area of their life and growth that will benefit them profoundly. Maybe it’s by holding a child accountable for something that the teacher knows can be done better. Perhaps it’s helping a student discover and celebrate a special skill or ability. It might be encouraging an eight year old to take on a fear of public speaking, or helping her confront and change a way she interacts with others. We are dedicated to partnering with parents to teach these lessons.
Discourse between school and family is planned to share information and create a healthy communication between family and teachers so that the children can get all the lessons they need to learn, easy or hard.
* A gratitude exercise: Google that teacher. Find him or her and write a thank you note. It doesn’t take long, really and it’s just an awesome thing to do.