Monday, December 7, 2009

What if...

I love the way Seabury kids think!  Their minds are filled with limitless possibilities for everything, so discussions with them can go in such interesting directions...

Last Friday at our weekly Lower School Gathering, two girls from the Explorers class (4th and 5th grade students) presented an issue to the student body.  It seems that we had thirteen playground balls available to students for recess on the first day of school and now we now only have five because so many balls have gone sailing over the fence and down the hill.  What to do?!

Our girls had discussed the issue with Ms. Nancy, our PE teacher, and offered both the problem and a solution to students at Gathering.  Their solution?  For every ten days in a row students can go without kicking balls over the fence, Ms. Nancy will add a new ball to the playground equipment.  They asked students to work together to keep balls on the playground so that they can earn new balls and have more to play with.

Immediately hands shot up all over the room.  "What if a ball goes over the fence, but is still in the driveway on school property - does that count?"  The girls pondered the question and determined, yes, that counts as over the fence and they would have to start the ten day count over again. 

Another child asked, "What if the ball lands in the street, and a neighbor walking or driving by picks it up and throws it right back - does that count?" 

Pause.  Hmmm...  "Yes, that counts."

"What if the ball goes over the roof rather than over the fence?"

Thoughtful silence.  "Counts."

"What if the ball goes over the net, but lands between the net and the fence, so it is still, technically, inside the fence?"

Hmmmmm...  "That wouldn't count.  That would be ok."

After about twenty questions like that, it was time to "continue the discussion in classrooms and move on," but the discussion could have easily gone on all day.  What a Seabury moment! 

Our kids love to think about possibilities.  To dream about all the "What if's" they can come up with - about why the dinosaurs died out, about what it would be like to visit Africa, about what would happen if robots took over the world, about how it must feel to be homeless on a cold night like last night - about everything under the sun.  It's one of the things that makes working with gifted children so much fun and so challenging at the same time.  There is no end to the wondering.  What a gift to celebrate!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Getting Started

It's my turn!  Seabury's teachers have been doing a great job blogging about life in their classrooms at Seabury.  I've decided it's time for me to join in the fun and share some of my thoughts and observations about life at Seabury and about the adventure of working with gifted children. 

Just for the record, I struggle every time I use the term "gifted."  It is the term used in the educaton community and in the media to talk about the children we serve at Seabury.  But it can conjure up so many myths and wrong assumptions about our students and about our attitudes toward children.  Many times in my career in gifted education I have had both parents and educators tell me, "I don't believe in gifted education - I believe ALL children have gifts."  I couldn't agree more.  It is true.  ALL children - without exception - have gifts.  And all children deserve to have their gifts recognized, nurtured and supported.   

We generally recognize that students who show exceptional promise in athletics or in the arts require special training tailored to their individual ability level if they are to develop those talents.  One writer pointed out that we don't train our Olympic swimmers by having them teach beginning swimming.  "Gifted" education is nothing more than that.  It is appropriate education for students who think and learn differently than typical kids their age.  They are kids who might be reading early or showing exceptional ability in math.  Students who understand things that others their age don't, or who have the insatiable desire to know everything there is to know about a subject that interests them.  These children aren't more special.  They just think and learn in a special way. 

That's why I'm at Seabury.  Because I believe every child deserves to learn something new at school every day.  Because I believe all children have gifts and can use those gifts to make the world a better place.  And because "gifted" kids, just like all kids, thrive when they are challenged and stretched and have the chance to think big thoughts and explore big ideas. 

I look forward to sharing stories about our kids and their educational journey with you!