“From Under Our Big Tree” Weekly Newsletter #6 – 7 to 9 Class (18 Oct 2015)

All Together - Community
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
– Nelson Mandela
How wonderful it was to be able to connect with parents this week during parent teacher conferences. I truly enjoyed sitting together sharing moments, laughter and maybe even a few tears of joy. Thank you you for entrusting your precious jewels to me.As some of you came into the classroom, you were greeted by smiling faces in photo frames. Each individual child has their own frame where they placed a photograph of their family. The frames were then gathered together to become one collective piece. Similarly, our classroom is made up of individuals who make up one classroom family. We play together, we eat together, and we work together.

Since we spend so much time together we have had many conversations about what works for our classroom.  One thing that students requested in the beginning of the year were “community jobs.” Most students had previously had some experience with classroom jobs, and they felt that it helped the classroom run “better.” So the students created the title of each job, and what responsibilities each job entails. These are our community jobs:

  1. Germ Patrol – Washing dishes, passing out hand sanitizer.
  2. Spa Water – Filling up water filter and jug. Cutting up fruit, veggies, or herbs to add to the jug of spa water.
  3. Clean-up crew – Spraying down and wiping tables and chairs. Sweeping extra scraps or crumbs from the floor.
  4. Assistant – Helping the teacher, passing out materials, wiping the dry-erase board and being an extra pair of hands
  5. Plant love – Making sure every plant in our classroom receives the proper amount water.
  6. Pencil Sharpener – Sharpening our much used pencils.

We get to do a job for a week and then change to a new job, so that everyone gets an opportunity to work with different people, and do different jobs.

Learning about commitment, flexibility, collaboration:

Alex: Awww man, I don’t really like doing dishes. But it’s okay I can do it, because then we’re not going to have any clean dishes.

Anna: Yeah, and then we can’t do the spa water.

Maiya: I’m done with my job, can I help you guys?

It is so great to be able to see the empowerment that comes from something so simple as a “community job.” Students feel invested in their classroom, and they build a sense of mastery and self-reliance. They also begin to see themselves as important contributors to their classroom community. In this case, our intention is the opportunity to experience responsibility that does not feel like a burden but a right. I also see that students are more empathetic and responsive to each others needs. It truly feels like we are family – a TKG Family!

Con Amor,

Yvette Fenton, 7 to 9 Lead Teacher
Autum Fawn, 7 to 9 Co-Teacher
Lena Garcia, School Builder, 7-9 Class Mentor and Collaborator
Trish Valdez, School Business Manager
Monica Evangelist, Board President
Google Calendar: Official Events
Shutterfly: Photos only
Facebook Group: Private forum for parent chatter
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TKG Info

Tending the Garden

Fall Picture Day – now scheduled for Monday Oct 26th (Alice had some kit issues and the rental timeframe has created some scheduling delays. Thanks for your patience!

Field Trip #2, Fri 30 Oct 9:30am – Our intention for whole-school field trips is to bring our community into local environments that embody our values of Empowerment, Social Justice, Environmental Stewardship and Innovation. The focus of our upcoming field trip is on the value of Social Justice, seen through the lens of a cultural art experience.  We are pleased that we will be able to go on a special behind-the-scenes tour of the Fowler Museum at University of California at Los Angeles.What to Bring (we’ll be doing a lot of walking): snack, water, lunch and sunscreen.

Monthly Parent Meeting, 11/5 – Make sure it is on your calendar!

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

PTs This Week – arrival time is 8.30am; allow 30 minutes for debrief at the end of the day. Please let Yvette know if you are having challenges with fulfilling your commitment. Tuition credit is based on you completing your hours in full.


Monthly Meeting, Thr 11/5, 7pm: make sure you have the date on the calendar!

PT RESOURCE: How Children Listen
Kids have a lot on their minds. Not to mention that when the brain is rewiring (about age six, and again at about age twelve) they can feel overwhelmed by outside stimuli and tune you out. So kids have other things to think about. They also have different priorities so for some students, we may not be talking about listening but rather, encouraging the student to action something we value more in that moment. Here’s how to approach respectfully:
  1. See it from his/her point of view
  2. Make eye contact (eye way highway)
  3. Use few words to make your request
  4. Stay calm
Read Dr.Laura’s article for more inspiration.
Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

Yard Sale: Due to low response, we have postponed yardsale. If you would like to participate, please let Trish know. Once we have 5 families, we’ll schedule a mutually convenient date.

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

Daylight Savings is coming! Nov 1

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

What Letter Should We Add to STEM?

It’s why we have FACE time! What is FACE time? No, not screen time…it is our Fine Arts & Cultural Enrichment time. Our value is to keep the arts alive in our learning – at the personal level and collectively because the art/creativity skill set fuels innovation and risk-taking.

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“The Big Question” @ the Aspen Ideas Festival (video)

At this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival, we asked a group of academics within some of America’s top universities to debate how STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) could be benefitted by another letter. “I have no hesitation in saying we need to add the letter A,” says Harvard University education professor Howard Gardner (n.b. yes, that one – multiple intelligences). “An education devoid of arts…is an empty, half-brain kind of education.” Other panelists include Sebastian Thrun, Drew Faust, Erika Christakis, and Nicholas Dirks.

Watch the Video @TheAtlantic

These Tools Are @ TKG!

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