It’s About Who We Are Together

March 24, 2009 at 8:00 pm 1 comment

posted by Alisa Algava ’08, leader of a small Hudson Valley progressive school

alisanephew“Students learn what they care about…” Stanford Ericksen has said, but Goethe knew something else, “In all things we learn only from those we love.” Add to that Emerson’s declaration, “The secret of education lies in respecting the pupil,” and we have a formula something like this: “Students learn what they care about, from people they care about and who, they know, care about them…”  ~Barbara Harrell Carson, Thirty Years of Stories

Last week at Bank Street I was lucky to see two very different educators speak about teaching and learning.  The first, Bob Pianta, is the Dean of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia and he shared his research about early childhood education.  According to Dr. Pianta, perhaps the best way to measure high-quality teaching is by actually observing teachers in the classroom, by noticing what they do that engages children to learn.  And, specifically, it is a teacher’s relationship and interactions with children that have the highest impact on their learning.

The second, Herb Kohl, is a renowned teacher and writer in the progressive education world who discussed what he has learned about schools throughout his life.  He talked about his vision of good schools as places where kids are able to comfortably be themselves with each other and with adults – on the playground, while eating lunch, at bus time, and in their classes.  He believes that teachers need to be people who inspire children’s imaginations, who enlarge their worlds.  And finally, he described his own mentor, the activist and philosopher Myles Horton, and how we all need someone who guides and nurtures us, and questions us, too.  In a spirit of love, mentors raise the most difficult questions in ways that allow us to grow.

At the small progressive school where I work, we believe in the importance of relationships, and always have.  Learning happens as children interact – with each other, with adults, with the physical and natural environments around them.  It is our professional and moral responsibility to purposefully guide this learning for our students so they develop intellectually, socially, emotionally, physically, artistically.  Both in philosophy and in practice, we must support and challenge each child to engage, to interact, to be who she is and to become who he needs to be.  And, in order to best meet the needs of our children, we have to open ourselves to new ideas and new experiences…teachers and parents and leaders must support and challenge each other, too.

Alisa Algava graduated from Bank Street’s Leadership for Educational Change program in December.  For the past 14 years, she has taught and learned in public, private, and charter schools in NY, NJ, and RI.  She has written 2 other postings for Bank Street’s Alumni Blog: Look Under Foot describes an eye-opening experience with the 3, 4, and 5 year olds at her school and Stepping into the River shares what she has learned from her own kindergarten teacher. Alisa loves learning.  She loves moderating The Alumni Blog.  And she really loves her nephew.

Entry filed under: collaboration, dialogue, early childhood, leadership, our teachers, philosophy, school reform, social-emotional learning.

Take Your Kids Out for a Walk “Earth Hour” is Tonight (Saturday) at 8:30pm.

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Jo Ann Joseph  |  May 5, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    I, too heard Dr. Pianta at Bank Street. What he was saying seemed to have hit a nerve with some in the audience; that children have better outcomes in kindergarten when their preschool teachers have warm and sustained interactions with them, regardless of the educational level of the teacher.

    This statement thrilled me because it was at Bank Street that I became aware of the power of these relationships in teaching. This notion permeates all of the classes at Bank Street as well as the teachers and fellow students I met here. In a sense, BSC teaches those who come here to be that teacher Dr. Pianta describes and does not leave to chance that some people have it and others do not. It is ingrained in the culture and passed on to others.

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Some of Our Past Bloggers

Alisa Algava ‘08, leader of a small Hudson Valley progressive school
Gloria Arenson ’58, psychotherapist
Bill Ayers ‘84, UIC professor, Chicago
Fred Baumgarten ‘84, writer/musician/naturalist/father
Keith Berman '03, founder/president of Options for College and Bank Street’s LinkedIn moderator
David Bowles ’08 (SFC ’93), museum educator at the Rubin Museum of Art
Elena Canaras ‘07, Special Education teacher, Hawaii
Virginia Casper, Bank Street faculty member
Jim Clay ‘88, director of a Washington DC Quaker preschool
Mary DeCamp Cotterall ‘87, Reading Specialist, Michigan
Judy Coven ’77, retired public school teacher and former Antioch University faculty member
Leslie Day '93, adjunct instructor at Bank Street and author of Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City
Mary Louise (Molly) Day ‘76, Lab School teacher, Chicago
Liezel de La Isla ‘99, Prague International School teacher
Diane Trister Dodge '70, founder and president of Teaching Strategies, Inc.
Meghan Dunn ’08, 3rd grade teacher, Brooklyn
Steven Evangelista ’01, co-director Harlem Link Charter School, NYC
Janine Fetters ‘02, Senior Associate of Parent Engagement at NACCRRA
Dena Florczyk '88, middle school teacher and founder/director of The Nigerian School Project
Hollee Freeman '94, writes about parenting issues for the alumni blog and was featured on BSCAA's April 2012 Career Panel
Ellen Galinsky '70, is President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute and author of Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs
Joanne Ruvolo Gannett ‘84, Columbia College art history professor, Chicago
Joan Goldstein ‘67, sociologist and educator
Margot Hammond, Director of the Center for Early Childhood Professionals
Carol Hillman ‘67, early childhood educator, author, and Long Trip co-leader
Pam Jones ‘05, Bank Street advisor and instructor
Lee Klinger Lesser ‘87, trainer for the Parent Services Project
Preminda Langer ‘97, teacher trainer
Claire Milam ’97, life coach, Austin, Texas
Rabin Nickens ‘03, Speaker, Trainer and Educational Consultant
Beth Norford ‘89, consultant and former School for Children teacher
Susy Ogden ‘97
Marion Palm ‘95, Leadership in the Arts alum, writing tutor, poet and singer
Jessica Poser, assistant professor of art education at UIC, Chicago
Jesse Pugh '76, BSCAA President
Meg Rauen ‘06, former Chicago elementary school teacher, NY
Linda Reing, Bank Street Director of Alumni Relations
Rosalind Rothman '62, retired NYC teacher and guidance counselor
Kyla Ryman '92/'97, educational coach and consultant
Ariel Sacks ‘06, middle school teacher, Brooklyn, NY
Linda Appleman (Guidall) Shapiro ‘81, psychotherapist and author
Barbara Silver ‘80, literacy consultant and former NYC first grade teacher
Andrea Penny Spencer, former Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Bank Street
Debbie Stone ‘84, former teacher/co-director of High Valley School
Rachel Theilheimer ‘74, chair of teacher education at BMCC/CUNY
Theodore Timpson ’05, founder/president of Young Spirit Foundation
Eleanor Traubman '95, is Editor in Chief of Creative Times, a blog which promotes NYC's performing, visual and literary arts
Allison Warren '08, new mom, recent grad, and early childhood teacher
Max Weinberg ‘03, Francis Parker School teacher, Chicago
Ted Wells ‘07, 4th grade teacher at The Park School, Brookline, MA
Tracy Wiessbrod ’03, kindergarten teacher and stay-at-home mom

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