I had the opportunity to spend some time with the Trailblazers on Thursday, and we watched Adam Sander’s Lunch Lady Land and Turkey songs. It made me think about one of his sketches on SNL’s weekend update as the Cajun Man, so I decided to give that a try for this note:
On Friday, we had the Fun Run compleeshun
Learned from Discovery Center’s Chase about evaporayshun, condensayshun, and precipitayshun….
Now we are looking forward to 8th grade graduayshun
On Tuesday we have a dinosaur invayshun
And Wednesday we begin our summer vacayshun
2021-22 took a lot more out of us than we expected, and this is true for schools locally, nationally, and internationally. The impacts of the pandemic on families, children, teachers, and staff are showing up as anxiety, disconnection, fatigue, and disengagement from learning. I believe our being open in-person all year in 2020-21 helped offset, but did not erase, these impacts this year. Even so, there has been so much really great learning and community. For the coming school year, we have to be incredibly intentional and focused to foster and reignite a school culture that puts belongingness, community, engagement, and joy in learning at its core.
We are retooling and reinvigorating Spectrum next year towards this end, with a vision of more all-school shares, multi-age “houses” to build connection and community, structures to ensure opportunities for teacher collaboration across the levels, increasing interest group opportunities, age-range classrooms focused on developmental levels regarding reading, writing, math, and inquiry skills, and increasing all school opportunities for themes and transdisciplinary learning. We will be going deep into Spectrum’s roots with more parent involvement and connection, and reclaim and strengthen our progressive principles that COVID’s isolation diminished.
Imagine a school that prioritizes belongingness, nurtures empathetic hearts, and provides challenges and opportunities to develop unhackable brains. Imagine academics based on a learning framework that fosters strategic thinking, self-awareness, creating, doing, relating, and reflecting. Imagine the many deeply engaging ways that we can help students make their thinking and learning visible, so they are able to confidently embrace a highly visual and interactive future as they manage information, learning, social media, and the workforce. Imagine every child learning, working, and interacting from a place of identity, with other children across all ages, with opportunities for leadership and modeling up to build those relationships. Imagine all of them belonging to all of us as a community, sharing our strengths and our passions with them even as we expect them to share theirs with us. Imagine leveraging experiential learning through partnerships, field trips, community service, and nature studies. Imagine students developing independence and ownership of their learning within this context of community.
None of this is new to Spectrum. Please know we are recommitting ourselves to this work in this way now that the strictures of a pandemic have eased. As a small, completely independent not-for-profit, nothing is stopping us from making a school community as amazing as we can. We have always done our best, which is better than anything else out there. Even so, the possibilities of the coming year are creating a synergy that is spectacular.
Mary Beth Cunat
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