When I was in grad school, I had a professor pose the question, “What do you teach?” The class was composed of teachers working towards a master’s degree in education, so we had students. At first glance, to many, the answer was easy. I teach science or third grade were their common answers. But the “correct answer” was “I teach children.” Once you see it, it changes how you think about the purpose of education.
When we teach children instead of math or science, we spend as much time thinking about the character traits we are modeling as we do academic content. We become deliberate about the words we choose and their power. Language permeates everything we do here at Saklan; it shapes how students think of themselves and others. There is a subtle but powerful difference between saying “good morning students” and “good morning scientists.”
What we say to students helps them build a positive identity and gain a sense of who they are and who they want to become. Our job is to build them up and help them envision themselves in the future. It is to convey the idea that impossible
is just a word and they can grow themselves.
When choosing our language, we think about building trust. We use words and phrases like “I’m not sure, what do you think” or “I never thought of it that way.” Both of these phrases show vulnerability and empower students to push their thinking. Those phrases also build trust, which in turn increases academic confidence.
By working with students in this way, we are modeling how they should be interacting with each other. How they should be supporting each other and how they can play a role in others’ growth. We do teach children, but hopefully, we are teaching them how to teach others.
Covid-19 has changed our world in many significant ways since March, including impacting our learning environment on every level imaginable. However, a wonderful change to Student Council has come about and we hope it will revive our community and provide meaning and leadership experience for others.
Saklan has traditionally had students interested in joining the Student Council fill out letters of intent, make campaign posters and stickers, take part in an interview, write and perform a speech, and go through a popular election to earn a place as an officer. Typically, this is a worthy process to go through and teaches life skills to our students. However, experience working with adolescent elected officers has taught us some valuable lessons. One of which is that getting elected is important and meaningful; but it doesn’t mean a student will show up every week to meetings and support fellow officers during the planning, setting, and cleaning up events. It is the weekly commitment and follow through that is an essential part of being a successful and dependable Student Council officer. This important part of the job has been magnified in a virtual learning environment. Officers have to respond and communicate primarily through email, show up to regularly scheduled Zoom meetings, and complete individual tasks on time without teachers reminding them in person. Taking all of this into consideration, Saklan decided to include all candidates who showed up and made an effort during the campaigning process on this year’s Student Council.
These students have lots of previous experience in leadership roles and have proven themselves committed young people that care about their school community. As a collective, the students discussed and decided who should take which positions and are proud of the result. It was a collaborative effort that already has this Student Council working well together. They are excited for a unique, but important, school year. The Student Council is committed to making the Saklan community shine bright not only in person as it usual does, but online as well. Thank you for your support!
Meet the 2020-2021 Student Council Officers
Presidents: Evy Anders, Makenna Choi & Levi Kim (8th grade)
The fourth grade class shared a poetry presentation at Friday Flag last week in which they presented poems called “Behind My Mask.” In the poems, students expressed some of the relatable thoughts and feelings they had been having “behind their masks” during this challenging time. One student expressed his “awe at the world and what is has become,” while others hoped for world peace and safety for their families. One poet noted that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and another dreamed of teaching his own children how to “be kind” one day. As they shared, the students realized that not only were they experiencing similar emotions, but that the rest of the world was as well. Sharing their poetry both in class and at Flag gave the students an opportunity to connect with each other and the Saklan community, and enabled them to view the world from a more global perspective.
Saklan’s sixth graders have been studying early humans and their evolution process in Humanities class. The students have learned about many different hominins (formerly known as hominids), which are modern man’s most closely related relative. This field of study is constantly being updated because archaeologists and anthropologists are discovering new hominin remains all over the world. Some of the most interesting early humans the students studied were: Homo Habilis (Handy Man), Homo Erectus (Upright Man), Home Floresiensis (nicknamed Hobbit Man), Homo Sapien Neanderthalensis (Neanderthal Man), and Homo Sapiens Sapiens (Doubly Wise Man or Modern Man).
Each student learned about several hominins and chose a project to do in order to deepen their knowledge in this topic. Sixth graders were given a choice board and were able to choose from a variety of projects. Katerina, Soni, and Ani chose to make an animated, illustrated timeline. Chase, Katerina, Alex, and Damon made comic strips about early humans online, or in Chase’s case, beautifully hand drawn. Juliet, Sadie, Noah, and Loralyn made A-B-C books, which meant they worked together to find 26 words that described all the things and topics they learned related to early humans, wrote definitions and information about them, and then added an image to each page. Finally, last but not least, Alex and Danny wrote original scripts and filmed a video about interviewing an early human ancestor. The videos are really creative and funny. If you are interested in seeing their beautiful work, it will be featured on a bulletin board in the Humanities classroom next week!
You must be logged in to post a comment.