A Note From Noah

“We value democracy in our communities. How do investigations empower children to become democratic citizens?”

This question was crafted by our teaching staff last spring, to be used this year as the guiding focus of our “Peer Learning Cycle” (PLC) (see what we mean by “investigations” here). PLC is a year-long professional development strand, in which teachers research this central question in their classrooms and then bring data together to explore with fellow teachers. We are not after a specific or final “answer” but in the inquiry itself.

You can read more about our current PLC on the Common Space bulletin board between classrooms 2 and 3 (a condensed version of the board is viewable here), along with relevant Daily Reflections highlighting how the work has been going. The board includes a section for YOU to add your own comments, so please do! And, make sure to attend our school-wide PLC evening on February 13, 6pm.

Democracy is at the heart of what makes our country a special and powerful place, and also our school (outlined here). Three years ago I was fortunate to hear Deborah Meier speak to a crowded room of ISAAGNY school heads (Deb is, among other things, a MacArthur “genius” recipient and a mammoth presence in the field of education). Deb beseeched us to practice democracy in our schools, to do democracy with our students. She reminded us that “we go to war for democracy,” and yet our country far-too-often forgets that schools are not only places of learning but also the fundamental engine which nurtures democratic citizens.

Deb urged us to create schools in which “everybody involved feels more powerful and not less powerful.” This, of course, resonates deeply with our Reggio-inspired approach, which is why this year our teachers designed the above question – to explore how our classrooms can incubate democracy.

Please visit the bulletin board in our Common Space to leave your own thoughts and stay abreast of our school conversation on this topic.

Happy Thanksgiving,