AFter I decided to stick my foot in it at a PTO meeting last month, I offered to go reexplain myself to the parents this month. This involved me going with a group of people to visit an IB school here in the City.
The school is called Quail Run. When I compare our AIMS scores to their AIMS scores we’re basically in a dead heat and we both have about fifty percent of our population from out of district. Size wise we’re a lot larger, though they have more grade levels. We’re K-4 and Quail Run is K-6. Class size is roughly the same- between 29-32 kids in each class in the higher grade.
The environment of the school is what is really different. I’m having a hard time figuring out exactly what is different, but I’ll put down what I have found.
1. Peace Table. The school has an initiative called the Peace table. From Kindergarten on up the kids are taught how to solve problems between two people. They are allowed at any time to call another kid to the ‘peace’ table either in the office or in their own classrooms. There they follow guidelines that go Person A talk, Person B listen, Person B talk, Person A listen. Then they come to an agreement, then agree to it. The principal says that his behavior problems have gone down dramatically since then. The teacher can keep an ear out just in case they need to intervene.
2. The PYP Central Themes. The themes seem really thought out and fit well with the standards that we have to teach.
3. So Quiet! All of the classes were so quiet, even when the teacher was saying that the kids were going to “anarchy” because she’d left them alone for a while to talk to me. They were nothing like the anarchy that my class descended into when I got back.
4. The emphasis that not everything fits into the themes and not everything can be constructivist. That really resonated with me. I love constructivist teaching, but not everything works with constructivist teaching. When it comes to interventions for our lowest learners it is so important to deliver instruction in clear direct instruction ways.
5. It is going to be really hard. There is a lot of time that is going to be spent on this project. The principal of Quail Run said that on average the grade levels spent two hours a week setting up their themes and their lesson plans over a three year period.
There is so much more, and I’ll blog more as we keep going. I’m still very concerned that we’re going to lose a couple of teachers here at Simis because of the time commitment. None of us are lazy, but we do have a lot of people with families and it’s hard to meet outside of school.
Keeping you posted- PIO Phase!