Thoughts on Making Connections and Meaning, Learning Beyond the Classroom, and Conferences

I love making meaning and sense of the world around me through connections. Learning new things and revisiting old understandings is exciting and fun and engaging and I tend to retain the information longer when I have connected it to something else that I understand or know. Recently it seems that this is happening with greater frequency and I attribute the increase to being part of our thoughtful and reflective community.

A few weeks ago, I stopped by our middle school students’ overnight trip just north of Monterey. According to their website, “Camp SEA Lab fosters lifelong excitement, scientific understanding, and stewardship of our coasts and ocean by providing quality marine oriented programs that promote Science, Education and Adventure for youth, families and teachers.” This is a perfect tie into the learning experiences for our students. I was so glad to see a part of their time at McAuliffe studying marine science and that we provide fundamental strategies to engage in scientific inquiry in the real world.

You may recall reading a bit about their trip in past newsletters or heard stories from your children. I love that we offer high caliber learning experiences both in and out of the classroom. I also love that we continue to follow in the footsteps of earlier generations in the exploration and understanding of the great unknown.

Last week, I was in Chicago, presenting at the annual Responsive Classroom Leadership Conference. Schools from all over the country and around the world were there to hear about the latest research, and learn new strategies to support student learning. The focus of my talk was on academic engagement and academic choice and I demonstrated this through the lens of the learning experiences we offer across the grade levels at McAuliffe. One of the examples I shared tied in to our students’ experiences from Camp SEA Lab along with the importance of learning both in and out of the classroom. (And did I mention that student is originally from Chicago??? Small World!!)

The conference was a wonderful opportunity for me to meet and develop relationships with like-minded educators. After my presentations ended, I spoke with a number of educators who were eager to learn more about our school and couldn’t believe that a public school offered so much to children. It was a powerful reminder of how incredibly fortunate we are at McAuliffe and how rare communities like ours are, even among schools that embrace Responsive Classroom.

With four days ahead of us, I hope that you have a wonderful time with your family and friends on this long weekend. November becomes a very short month with Thanksgiving break just around the corner.

Even though the month is short in days, I encourage you not to let it rush by. Take time to reflect on the many blessings and good things in your life. Have a great weekend and will see you next Wednesday.

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