What makes a community ideal for learning and growing?

Take a moment and think about this question.  What comes to mind when you think about an ideal learning community?

Did any of these words or phrases come to mind:

  • Nurturing
  • Challenging
  • Respect
  • High Expectations
  • Safe and Supportive
  • Meeting Individual Needs
  • Positive and Joyful
  • Inclusive and Diverse
  • Reflective
  • Strong Leadership and Citizenship
  • Trust

I know you chose the Ravenscroft community for your children’s educational experience because you have the confidence in us to offer them a learning community that embodies these characteristics and more. I am extremely grateful that you made this decision, and I want you to know we are committed to meeting and hopefully, exceeding your expectations.

At the very first Lower School Division meeting, we asked the faculty and staff the same question I just asked you– What makes a community ideal for learning and growing?

They came up with the words and phrases I just shared with you, and I have a feeling we all share a similar vision for the type of environment needed to support each student on their journey to be their best self.

It is important to remember these shared values as we partner together throughout the year, but the question really becomes:

What are we actually doing in Lower School to ensure we are providing our children with an ideal community in which to learn and grow?

Last year, I shared our commitment to providing our students with a strong 21st century education, and our desire to  leverage technology to meet the needs of a new generation of learners, while still providing a solid foundation in the traditional academic subject areas.  We will continue our efforts in these areas because we realize this is a journey. As the world continues to change and evolve around us, we will need to continuously reflect on our practices and find ways to improve in order to successfully prepare our students to thrive in a complex and interdependent world.

This year, the Lower School will also be focusing on enhancing our learning community by establishing clear and consistent expectations for the way we interact with each other, and we will be challenging every member of the community to respect themselves, each other, and our learning spaces on a daily basis.

Some of the specific action steps related to this community initiative include:

  • Revising our Lower School handbook and including a Statement of Community that summarizes our behavioral expectations and the consequences for not meeting them.
  • Revising our Dress Code and establishing clear guidelines to ensure students are showing respect for themselves, each other, and the learning environment in the way they dress.
  • Revising our Honor Code so it resonates with Lower School students and using monthly guidance classes and Tree Talk assemblies to discuss Honor and the other Character Tree traits.
  • The entire Lower School faculty is reading Schools Where Everyone Belongs  by Stan Davis and engaging in a yearlong professional development partnership with the author. He will be speaking to students, faculty, and parents in February. To give you a general idea about his philosophy, I will share a quote from his book- “Classrooms with positive social structures are those where students are included and supported by their peers, where students focus on schoolwork during class, and where there are clear class norms about supporting each other and doing schoolwork.”
  • Continuing our partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership and integrating daily leadership and citizenship lessons into Lower School.
  • Highlighting students who model and demonstrate our Character Tree traits on the Lower School blog and in morning announcements.
  • Using literature and book clubs to engage students in discussions about their values and treatment of others.

Every morning, the Lower School community will begin the day by stating the following words of our Honor Code:

I will tell the truth.

I will be honorable in my work and play.

I will respect all people and their belongings.

This Honor Code contains our most basic promises to each other and the ones we will hold each other accountable for: we will be truthful, honest in our work and play, and respectful of each other.

As parents, what’s your role? How can you help support the work we are doing here at school?

  • Have positive conversations with your children about their experiences at school and ask questions that focus the attention on the good things that happened.
  • Release responsibility to your children and allow them to take ownership of their learning while supporting them on the journey.
  • Communicate directly with us when you have questions, concerns, or  joys to share.
  • Remember that your children’s teachers absolutely love what they do and they always have your children’s best interest at heart.

To quote our new website, my message to your children is simple:

  • Expect great things
  • See yourself in the world
  • Stand strong
  • Take chances
  • Be the best you
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