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From the Principal

posted Oct 10, 2016, 8:27 AM by Diane Randall

Welcome back to our “new school”. Our top priority here at Leicester is to learn about and support each of our 50 students’ interests and needs. What questions do they have about the world? How can we help them build on and find answers to those questions? When we meet as a staff, it’s usually to think together about how best to do that, how to create a school that’s not just academic but intellectual. When we work on e

xpeditionary projects, it’s not just to be “hands on”, it’s to be challenging and thought provoking… It’s for all students, kids who have challenges and kids who want and need extra challenges. Our main concern is what students are learning, and how they’re helped to learn it. We make sure that it makes sense for the particular kids in a given room, in a given year. That’s why our teachers spend a lot more time asking than telling — and even more time listening to what the kids wonder about. The plan for learning is created with your kids, not just for them. Do kids need the basics? Absolutely! And they get it, but they need to be engaged, curious, and see relevance to what they are learning. The basic skills need to be learned, especially in the early grades, but there , too, our young students need to see meaning in their learning.

A good way to tell how successful we are is how excited the students are about figuring stuff out and playing with ideas. Nurturing their desire to learn is more important to us than cramming them full of definitions and dates and details that they’re likely to forget anyway. Plus, in my experience, when that excitement is there, academic excellence tends to follow – assuming they’ve been given the support and resources they need.

So if your children ever seem reluctant to come to school, please let us know! Hating school isn’t a fact of life; it’s a problem to be solved. It’s our responsibility to improve what happens in school. And if it turns out that the curiosity of our students is being smothered by practices that we’ve come to take for granted, well, we’re not going to say, “Too bad. That’s life.” We’re going to rethink what we’re doing and help them create problem solving strategies for these obstacles in the future.

Our classrooms are student-centered and much of the learning is student-designed around a theme or project. It’s organized around their questions, around projects and problems that intrigue them. (By “them,” I mean not only individual kids but whole classrooms; the learners think these things through together.)

Please...hold us accountable for helping your child be a deep thinker who loves learning. Expect creativity. Expect curiosity. Expect class meetings that build community and empower students.

I do believe the overused phrase, “All children can learn.” The question should be, All children can learn what? Obviously everyone can’t learn everything, but the more important question is whether a given thing we’re asking them to learn is really worth learning. That’s what we should be talking about. And that’s what we do talk about — not only at staff meetings but with the kids. That’s what defines our approach to education, in fact.

Is this working? I do believe it is!