Elementary School Principal's Blog

Anchoring Our Practice

Posted on August 27, 2022

by Dr. Edna Hussey on August 27, 2022

Thank you, parents, for joining us at your childʻs Open House. The teachers did well to explain daily routines, curriculum, and instructional practices through their slide presentations, which also captured your children in action in different learning spaces. As the focus was on the what, where, and how of learning, Iʻll spend a few moments addressing the why we do as we do. What are the foundational beliefs that underpin the deeper-learning practices that are implemented in our classrooms? These core beliefs about teaching and learning can be found in the handbook but are copied here for your convenience.

• Learning occurs naturally when it is meaningful, purposeful, and connected to the discovery of self in relation to God, family, community, and the world.

The key words are connected to the discovery of self and in relation to. The content that makes up the day-to-day curriculum is chosen with intent so that students can build on their learning and see how one experience or idea is related to the next, and in the experiences, they learn more about who they are. More recently, students have been engaged in team-building activities getting to know one another. Writing or drawing what interests them, their passions, their favorite places are some ways of articulating their uniqueness while also discovering that there are peers like them in the classroom community.

• Learning is a unique process for person; all children learn at varying rates of development and use multiple intelligences. This also means that children should be able to express their learning through a variety of ways, all equally valid and important.

A teacher receives his students with full understanding and appreciation that each child has different intelligences, that is, strengths through which their knowing about something might be visual-spatial (abilty to comprehend visually charts, maps, videos, images); musical (ability to think in patterns, rhythms, sounds); logical-mathematical (ability to analyze abstract concepts in math and science); bodily-kinesthetic (ability to coordinate understanding through body movement and with dexterity); linguistic-verbal (ability to manipulate language through writing, reading, and speaking); interpersonal (ability to understand and interact with others); and intrapersonal (a keen awareness and self-reflection of their own emotions and feelings). Thus, every child has many opportunities through the year in a holistic program to hone any or all of these intelligences.

• Lifelong learning is the process of building on past experiences and prior understanding, discovering answers to self-generated questions, testing assumptions, refining beliefs, and reflecting on the process.

This is precisely what happens when your child is at school and particulary through an inquiry-based approach to learning. While inquiry as a learning process functions in every content area, we pay special attention to this learning process when tangling with concepts in social studies and science. Our studentsʻ questions, curiosities, and wonderings actually shape and guide the learning. When you begin to read the teachersʻ blogs about a developing inquiry, remember the key word: process.

• Effective learning is best supported in a nurturing, joyful environment. The elementary school environment includes a collaborative community of parents, peers, and teachers.

I like to think that your children find learning fun and challenging. Creating a joyful environment is not without its challenges when young children in preschool and elementary are learning how to understand "schoolness" and the expectations that come with living together in a classroom or school community. We do a lot of problem solving throughout the day, and the most effective approach is through collaboration with others. Think of collaboration as a negotiation and navigation through a problem. I am always struck by the ability and intelligence of children to problem solve.

• In order to achieve deep understanding, all children shuld have many and vaied opportunities for engaging in learning, from experiential, hands-on activities to more abstract, concept-building tasks. Concepts should be revisited each year and developed with increasing complexity.

The faculty and I work together from a developmental curriculum that builds on previous learning and experience. The education term for this is "scaffolding," which is an apt word for describing how knowledge is constructed with others. Learning is never confined to a classroom within four walls. Learning is where the children are, wherever they are.

• Development in all areas--intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual,and physical--is essential in helping children to achieve their greatest potential as thoughtful, independent, and compassionate individuals.

And so this last core belief is why you have chosen Mid-Pacific for your child. These are the schoolʻs goals and most assuredly some of your goals for your child. Add being happy and feeling safe, physically and emotionally. These beliefs about deep, meaningful, and lifelong learning anchor our practice.

Endnote: The image for this blog captures one of the many times through the past week when Kumu Lanakila Casupang has been teaching our students, faculty, and staff a special ʻoli, Welina Mānoa, which we intend to sing weekly altogether outdoors. This, too, anchors our practice.The birth of what we hope will be a new Mid-Pacific tradition!

E Kūlia Kākou! Letʻs strive and aspire together!

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey, Ed.D.