Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Waiting on the world to change"

A Peace Assembly, a Show of Work, a Witch Trial.  Engaging , empowering action up to the last minute before break.

There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children.  There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they grow up in peace.
                                                                                                            ~ Kofi Annan

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It makes sense to collaborate

Collaborating, communicating.  The back and forth and give and take allows for feedback and clarity, and makes the learning stick.  Why work in isolation?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wisdom from Finland

Everyone is talking about Finland!  Their school model includes supporting the highest caliber teachers and not rushing children into academics.  There is time for play and exploration.  A Finnish education minister says, "We don’t measure children at all. It’s about being ready to learn and finding your passion.”  And lo and behold, the students do really well. 

Several years ago a Finnish student-teacher came to Parker for 3 months.  Kaisa Kukkonen's smile and enthusiasm inspired everyone she met.  She exemplified an education that bred independence, joy, and exuberance for learning.  She found Parker to be a lot like her elementary school in Finland.

Here is a New York Times article: From Finland, an Intriguing School-Reform Model.  See if you think Kaisa was on to something!

Monday, December 12, 2011

First LEGO League competition

Parker Math Club participated in a First LEGO League competition this Saturday at RPI.  Click on this YNN news clip to see our kids there in their bright blue t-shirts.  Thank you to Shelli Casler-Failing and Katy Perry, our math and science teachers for taking on the challenge - and for all the parents who supported the team.  Congratulations to our terrific students who worked so hard and put themselves out there!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Volunteers do their share

A Book Fair for the Library and 8th Grade's Oxfam Hunger Banquet were just part of a full week. The Oxfam event raised awareness about world hunger and over $1,024 for hungry people.  Thank you to the 8th grade and all the many guests and volunteers who made Oxfam and the Book Fair successful. 

When you come to Parker you never know what you'll see.  Yesterday as Laura took a visitor on tour, they encountered violin lessons, Band practice, a Pattern Museum in Pre K, and middle school social studies teacher, James, ironing a tablecloth for the Oxfam event!  This morning students sang "MICE, MICE, make it nice - Do your share and show you care..." as they broke into teams to clean the common areas of the school.   MICE stands for Make it Clean Everywhere.  They do!

Then Pre K Planet Parker headed into the woods for a snowy afternoon.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Doing "small" well

Mayor Bloomberg said recently that class size in schools doesn't matter - it's having good teachers that makes the difference.  True on some level, but simplistic.  It really does depend on good teachers -  and also a class size that is appropriate for the task. 

For hands-on experiences, smaller groups work best.   But with a couple extra adult hands, a big class can work, too.  (Today at the book fair, it took 5 adults to help 17 K-1's write their wish-lists!)  Math classes here are small.  What a luxury to have 7 or 8 students working with a teacher on math concepts.  They can move along quickly and make sure everyone is progressing.  But sometimes a discussion is better with more voices, like the Morning Meeting in 2-3, with 18 diverse viewpoints.

Even when we are all together, the Parker community is small.  Everyone knows everyone.  And that does take really good teachers who are intentional about making the community warm and supportive.  With Buddies, mentors, all-school assemblies, Winter Fridays, and now our twice weekly all-school exercise sessions, our students have the kind of small-school experience that you can't trade for anything.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Great place to work

Parker was named one of the Best Places to Work in the Capital Region by the Business Review!  Click here for photos of the winning companies - look for a few familiar faces in the mix.  Parker is also prominently featured today in the Business Review's supplement.

There was an awards lunch that those of us who could leave school attended, along with Christine Cunningham, our Board chair, and Ronnie Mangione, a trustee.  Several trustees sponsored our table for lunch.  When we carried the 20th Anniversary banner up to the podium, we felt so proud!  Back at school the teachers had treats and flowers.  The award is the result of the truly collegial and supportive relationships of everyone at Parker!