“The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.” (John Dewey)
Back in September, second grade students approached me with a dilemma – while they love and value Wednesday morning Sing, many of them felt squished in the crowded music room. I wanted to learn more, so I invited them to join me for lunch in my office. A lively discussion among the students ensued, and provided me with an understanding of the issue from their perspectives. We talked about who needed to be included in the conversation and who would be most impacted by any change.
But what to do next? I saw this as an opportunity for these second graders to take action – they were organized and ready to find a solution. They determined that a survey of the people impacted would be the logical next step. With the support of Nita, Karyn and Lindsay, SRV’s math specialist, the second grade students surveyed every single child in the school in person, going from classroom to classroom, presenting the issue, then asking the question – “Should Sing remain in the music room, be moved to upstairs in Grace, or do you not care?” The data from the students was gathered and organized. Now it was time to survey the parents!
Surveying parents involved writing letters, addressing envelopes, stamping, mailing, and anticipating the responses. While math was clearly integrated as part of survey and data collection, surveying parents by letter incorporated literacy skills – handwriting, composition, editing and proof-reading. The children remained incredibly focused as they wrote letters and addressed envelopes to the whole parent community.
Surveying the staff came next. To accomplish this task, the second graders approached individual staff members with the same queries that were posed to the students and the parents.
With all of their data in hand, second grade students worked with Nita, Karyn & Lindsay to create graphs that represented the responses from the different constituencies to the three options:
- Should Sing remain in the music room?
- Should Sing move to the gym upstairs in Grace?
- Don’t care
Presenting their data to SRV students and staff took careful planning and preparation. A Town Hall Meeting format was used, in which preschool – sixth grade students and staff sat in a large circle in the gym in Grace. Second graders facilitated the meeting, and presented their data with clarity and confidence. Students in attendance were given the chance to share their thoughts and opinions. Because her role as SRV’s music teacher is integral to Sing, Jodie shared her viewpoint.
It was remarkable to see the poise with which our students presented their questions and findings. The other community members remained quiet, focused, respectful, and participatory. There was a strong sense in the room that this was really important work, generated and sustained by the students with guidance and support from their teachers.
After the Town Hall meeting, the second graders reflected on their experience with satisfaction and pride — one student commented, “I felt like I was part of something really big!”
Determined to keep the momentum going, second graders will decide what comes next in this process, so stay tuned for updates in 2016. In the meantime, let’s all appreciate the incredible skills of persistence, organization, public speaking/presentation, and advocacy that these children are developing as they navigate this piece of emergent curriculum at their school.
Head of School