Each time I sit with a student, I ask myself, what does she or he need to unveil her or his inner stardom. Rather than just thinking academically, it is my hope that the many facets of a child's life come together to formulate, highlight, and demonstrate his or her intellectual, social, and spiritual capacity. To that end, we often engage in a kind of treasure hunt, looking for ways that she or he can take ownership and personal responsibility in nurturing his or her mind, body, and spirit. We talk about an inner light and how it sometimes shines brilliantly while other times it barely flickers. We eventually learn strategies such as deep breathing, relaxation and visualization techniques to keep that light burning more steadily.
I truly believe academic achievement relies on that inner light. For some, this light may best be described as motivation. Some children may be naturally motivated to learn while others seem bereft of ideas. However, student engagement is critical to learning. If a child does not find interest in the subject at hand, he or she will almost surely disengage. I have consistently watched the teachers at Cambridgeport draw their students into the academic conversation, holding high expectations that each of them can learn and become a full participant in his or her own education.
What can parents do to support their children’s learning? Perhaps, giving each child a special time each week where he or she is in the spotlight can provide a tremendous amount of academic and social nurturance. During those fun moments, asking and sharing ideas and thoughts about school might prove to be invaluable to expanding a child’s interest. In my office, we often share these kinds of ideas in small groups and work on such things “Whole Body Listening” which includes keeping your eyes on the person speaking, keeping your mouth quiet unless you are talking, keeping your ears open, your hands in your lap and your feet firmly planted on the floor when possible. We also discuss the importance of your heart and mind being part of the learning. These skills are meant to support our student’s learning in their classrooms.
Finally, with Katie Charner-Laird’s support, I have developed a rubric to measure carry over of the skills taught in my office to the classroom. This has helped me to inform my practice and tweak things when necessary. My genuine love and concern for each of your children makes every day a rewarding experience.