Co-Learning in All Aspects of School - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

Co-Learning in All Aspects of School

Posted on February 7, 2016

by Dr. Edna Hussey on February 7, 2016

Thanks to the efforts of Athletic Director Scott Wagner, several Mid-Pacific sports teams have been visiting the preschool and elementary students during lunch recess. Usually it's the girls and boys varsity soccer, basketball, softball and baseball teams. Players sit beside the children, engaging them in conversation about food, sports, video games, favorite school activities. Then off they go to the playcourt for some basketball or out to the baseball field for soccer. (I've included a few photos of middle school students helping to apply Mid-Pacific tatoos before one of the basketball game days). These opportunities for friendship-making with students in the middle and high school really give our younger students a real sense that they are part of a larger school community and can aspire to become like the "big kids." There are actually many of those looking-into-the-future moments. At least once a week, a middle or high school class might be serving as mentors, an audience, or collaborators on a project. When these students pass through the office on their way back to their side of the campus, I can hear their excitement. The spirit of the exchange is that of co-learning, that is, older and younger students learning together so that the experience is mutually beneficial. We already have a formal structure of co-learning in place through the multiage classes (e.g., the combination of first and second graders in one classroom or the preschool community of 3- and 4-year-olds). These opportunities for stimulating intellectual exchange and just plain ol' fun are indicators of one school community.

We are reinforcing this notion of community-building in the dining room. Weʻve observed students who are not as inviting about where students may sit on a table to eat. To address this situation, once in a while students will be picking up a playing card when they enter the dining room and will find the matching numerals or characters (king, queen, jack) placed on each table. We tested the procedure once last week, and since it is yet a novelty, students were quite excited about where they'd be sitting. Once in their seats, theyʻre reminded to take the opportunity to talk with students they donʻt ordinarily socialize with. While this social exercise may be a stretch for some students, the dining room becomes a place where everything we teach our students about making new friends, reading social cues, understanding the give-and-take of conversation can be tested. We believe these are the same values our parents have for their children and can be supportive when their children share stories from the dining room. When I have time to be in the dining room, I sometimes use the 5-minute quiet time before the end of the lunch period to invite a few students to share a joke, riddle, or story (sort of like an open mike). Iʻm always surprised by the confidence these students display! And the material they share! Very, very funny and clever.

One last note. We are currently mid-way through admissions assessments for children applying to preschool and elementary. I present information about our educational program, with special attention to the underlying concepts and principles that guide how we teach and learn, what we teach and learn, and why we teach and learn. The strong interest of these many prospective parents affirms that the program we offer continues to have an important and much-needed place in the educational landscape.

Should you reach the end of this blog, Iʻm interested in knowing who reads. Click here on my email address and in the subject line, enter Read it! Thanks.

E Kūlia Kākou! Letʻs strive and aspire together!

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey, Ed.D.