“From Under Our Big Tree” Newsletter Week #1 in the 9 to 11 Class (2015)

The Knowing Garden

From under our big tree…

13 September 2015
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Weekly Newsletter #1 – 9 to 11 Class
All Together - 9 to 11 Class
“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” 
― Phil Jackson

Our year has finally begun! Thank you for an incredible orientation night, with our parent opening ceremony and mini-pillow fight to our family opening ceremony to welcome in all of our new and returning students and families. It was a beautiful process to be a part of!

Please apply sunscreen before you leave home (if you do that sort of thing).  Pack: snack, lunch and plenty of water (we will offer refill times), hats, loose/layered clothing and whatever will make your student comfortable while they carry in their own pack. Temps will reach 80 degs with a 20% chance of rain.

For the last year, I have been imagining what the inauguration of our third TKG classroom would look like and all I can say is…Wow! Your child, our students, are so full of inspiration, creativity, compassion, and motivation that I can barely imagine the possibilities that lie ahead.

We eased into our week by spending lots of time getting comfortable with each other’s energies and the ambiance of our new space. Our morning meeting time has deepend as an older class by starting with appreciations, then sharing concerns or questions recorded by a student note-taker, followed by new information shared by me and then the sharing of hopes and desires as a culmination. This deeper format allows for the students to be empowered to engage daily on a different level as they lead each other to recognizing and solving challenges and cultivating an attitude of gratitude that will support our small team to stay connected and effective.

Team building was a high priority in order to welcome in our two new team members, so we set up the playground together, rearranged the room together, contemplated S’mores care together and told funny stories together. Moving into our academic work, we contemplated what our Big question of the year- How does our history affect our today and our tomorrow?– meant to us by embodying that artfully with a collage on our clipboards, which will house our daily, weekly and yearly schedules, guiding us to be thoughtful goal-seekers and confident plan makers. Building a home for the books that will propel our thinking deeper was also a high priority so we created word clouds to represent the concepts we have recently encountered in the books we read over the summer. These colorful representations will then plaster our book boxes, encouraging us to utilize literature as a possibility for growth and expansion.

I look forward to this next week, when we solidify our schedule and begin the cognitive work that our ground breaking explorers are ready to do!

With love,

Lena Garcia, School Builder/9 to 11 Classroom Lead Teacher
Trish Valdez, School Business
Monica Evangelist, Board President
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TKG Info

Tending the Garden

Supplies List: Check the supplies list, here.  Deadline is Sept 25th.  Don’t forget to return your Emergency Supplies as well.  Review that list in your handbook.

Community Movement Opportunity: Max will help us get our day started with a little energy and good vibes!  Between 8:45am-9am, this Tuesday. Wear/bring good movement shoes.

Homeschool Project: This week, students were offered a “homework” provocation about engineering.  As we are fine-tuning our Outdoor Classroom, we have discovered that the incline facing Ave D is A-Mazing for the scooterboards.  We also discovered that momentum will keep us moving in the direction of the stairs which could have some unwanted consequences.  Our challenge is to engineer a ‘back stop’ or ‘catch’ to help us minimize the Ave D Blues.

TKG Principles
  • CONSTRUCTIVISM: teachers and parents support relevant learning & creativity
  • WHOLE CHILD + FAMILY: cognitive, physical and social/emotional health is valued – families & caregivers are our partners
  • BRAIN SCIENCE: we are sensory learners with existing neural pathways and we can help develop and practice positive learning experiences
  • CAPACITY BUILDING: nurturing creative thinkers who are encouraged to solve problems that serve our community
  • COOPERATIVE LEARNING: small groups, low ratios, mixed ages
Parent Teacher Info

Parent Teacher Toolbox

PT Schedules – Begin Sept 28th
If you have requested a change and haven’t received a response yet, please try to make a point to connect with Trish at a drop-off this week.

PT Retreat 2015 – September 26th (for all planning to work in the classroom or park day)
9:00am to 1:00pm.  You must attend, the entire day, in order to start your PT schedule.  Contact Lena with questions.

Health & Safety – Background Checks/TB
Please begin the process for your background check if needed (new PTs only). Google “live scan + your city/location” to locate where to go. Even if you have done it for another organization, TKG needs their own report. Also, please update your TB. Contact Trish with questions.

PT RESOURCE: Disaster Preparedness
In a disaster, children will look to you and other adults for help. How you react to an emergency gives them clues on how to act. If you react with alarm, your child may become more scared. They see your fear as proof that the danger is real. But, you need to keep control of the situation. Take your cues from your Lead Teacher and maintain calm while supporting the teachers in ensuring the children are safe. Visit the Red Cross for more tips… (we will cover our specific protocols at PT training)
Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

Board 2015-2016 – Board positions will open in October/November. Being on the Board means that you are willing to dedicate time and resources toward growing enrollment, raising money and making governance decisions. If you are interested in learning more, contact Monica.  Our first meeting of the school year is this Wednesday, at TKG, beginning at 7pm.

Tech Workshop – this Thurs 9am: bring your laptops, mobiles, tablets, whatever you use to shop escrip, load classroom photos, check the official calendar…we’ll help you answer all your tech questions.

Admin Office Hours, Thrs 9:00am @ TKG: stop by with any operational, PT, bookkeeping, etc questions!

The Four Agreements
1. Be Impeccable with your Word
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best

Resource Of The Week – Whole Child


Extracurricular choice, intrinsic motivation. Grit and perseverance. These are ideas that help us build TKG’s emerging curriculum. This curriculum supports the development of a community hub where people (children and adults) can gain knowledge about: themselves, how to grow their physical/social/emotional capacity and how to advance their academic endeavors.  We will continue to follow the research, like in this TED IDEA, to stay alert to the rapidly changing world that awaits our children.
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Fifty years ago, both South Korea and Finland had terrible education systems. Finland was at risk of becoming the economic stepchild of Europe. South Korea was ravaged by civil war. Yet over the past half century, both South Korea and Finland have turned their schools around — and now both countries are hailed internationally for their extremely high educational outcomes. What can other countries learn from these two successful, but diametrically opposed, educational models? Here’s an overview of what South Korea and Finland are doing right.

As TED speaker Sir Ken Robinson noted in his 2013 talk (How to escape education’s death valley), when it comes to current American education woes “the dropout crisis is just the tip of an iceberg. What it doesn’t count are all the kids who are in school but being disengaged from it, who don’t enjoy it, who don’t get any real benefit from it.” But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Notes Amanda Ripley, “culture is a thing that changes. It’s more malleable than we think. Read more @TED.IDEAS

Whole Child - The "Right" Classroom?


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