Abby’s Corner – Community, 21st Century Skills, and Parent Resources

November 8, 2018

Building Community
Well, it only took three years but finally Team Tapscott scored a win at the annual Panther Picnic Tapscott vs. Avis race! It certainly helped that I had the support of some of the Tapscott team, as Rachel and Luis helped bring it home for us! It was once again a super fun time, even for our fearless lead racer Rachel who went head first into the ramp, got up within seconds, and was back on her tricycle in no time. As I told the students, it was a perfect example of what we tell students all the time, which is that we all make mistakes and we have to learn to get up, brush ourselves off, and keep going!

As always, Heather and I were looking ridiculous, and I love that our community embraces this. For me, it speaks to our mission and how authenticity is so important in building community. We have to be real, and this includes sharing in moments of laughter together! Thanks for all of the encouragement. Panther Picnic is always such an incredible event. Thank you to everyone who helped make this year’s event a success.

A Peek into Program
Our 21st Century Learning Framework continues to guide our program and the learning experiences students have daily. Our goal to teach the skills students need to build a better world begins with having empathy, and this is developmentally both a natural thing for young children to feel and yet also quite challenging to practice in real time! Having empathy requires moving beyond your own perspective and making room for other opinions, suggestions, or ways of doing something. This is not easy work for adults, let alone elementary aged students, and yet we try to help them practice so that they gain comfort and familiarity when they realize they can incorporate another’s ideas with their own and land on an idea or end result that is even stronger than what they might produce working on their own.

At Tapscott, we work on building empathy by giving students daily experiences working with others – in partners and in small groups. These learning experiences provide opportunities to build 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, innovation/creation, and self-knowledge. Below are some examples of our students hard at work this fall. Their joy, engagement, and focus is truly impressive and inspiring to me!

Third graders show their excitement as they work through a project together in science class.

Fourth graders are incredibly focused as they record ideas during group work in class.

First graders doing partner investigative work in our garden.

Helpful Parent Resources
I’ve appreciated the honest dialogue I’ve had with many parents as hateful events have unfolded recently in our country. It is concerning, upsetting, and hard to know what to say to your young child in these moments. Ultimately, we want our kids to be caring, empathetic, accepting humans who love rather than hate. As a school, we want our community to embrace difference as a positive. I wanted to pass along a great resource provided by our new Tapscott counselor, Sophia Genone. We have always shared the messages with students and families that all are welcome here, and that everyone is encouraged to be who they are every day. My hope is that we continue to work at home and school to reinforce these messages. Below is Sophia’s resource, and I appreciate the way it breaks up tips by developmental stage. Teaching Tolerance is one of my go-to resources as both a parent and an educator.

Beyond the Golden Rule: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing and Responding to Prejudice

Checking In at School Events
In order to build community and make sure that everyone on campus is connected to a student, we’re going to begin having parents, guardians, family members, and friends sign in and put on a name tag when visiting campus for a school or class event, such as a grade level play, Halloween, or PSPA hosted coffee. Please set aside some extra time when you arrive on campus to sign in and put on a name tag. Thank you!

Worth Reading
My daughter read Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson in fourth grade and I just finished reading it this year. For students and adults who want to understand just how easy it is to become homeless as well as the very real challenges many in the Bay Area have, this is a great read. It is one of the better kid’s books I’ve read that does a nice job of building empathy for those who are without a permanent home. It also reminds us all that things may not be what they appear, and that sometimes we have no idea what a friend might be going through personally. I loved this book, and I donated it to our library so check it out sometime!