Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.
- John Dewey
Mr. Johnson shows off what kind of shirt NOT to wear during the PNA Dress Code Fashion Show at our first Assembly of the Year.
Every once in a great while, at the beginning of the school year, a student might ask, "What's going to happen in math this year?" or "I wonder what books we'll be reading?" but in our experience those questions pale in importance to the ones they have about their new social environment. "Are there going to be new kids in my class this year? I wonder if I will like them? I wonder if they will like me? What if they are mean to me?" At PNA, social climate is as important as math comprehension and exploration in science. We promise our families we are a safe place for kids to learn in and we take that promise seriously. Now more than ever kids need a place where they can be themselves - free of prejudice and judgment - and where they learn to be exactly what they need - free of prejudice and judgment.
“What Are Your Hopes and Dreams for the School Year?”
During Inservice, PNA teachers ask this question of each other to solidify the goals they share as a faculty, to learn what they are striving for individually, and to model to parents and students the same behaviors they will soon be asking of their students. The payoffs? A unified teaching team for students, support from each other to reach their individual goals, and foundations for friendships that can only add to their teaching experience at PNA.
Hopes and Dreams, a part of the Responsive Classroom approach, are explored with students in the first weeks of school, from the littlest learners to the 8th graders. It helps students get excited about learning in general and to make individual connections with teachers and each other to the subjects they will encounter during the year. Inviting students to name learning goals (hopes and dreams) right away shows them that PNA is a safe place, that teachers consider them important members of the classroom, and that they can look forward to an engaging, challenging, and fun year with each other.
Besides setting a tone of purposeful learning, we've found that inviting students to articulate their learning goals for the year is also an important first step in co-creating classroom rules. For example, after students share their goals with the class, a teacher might say, “You’ve had a chance to read everyone’s hopes and dreams. L