A Joyous Welcome Back!

This was a first week of school unlike any other. Although we all began last Tuesday anticipating many changes, we closed out our first week with overwhelming gratitude for how little of what truly distinguishes Parker has changed. Parker students are engaged, inquisitive, nurturing, and thoughtful — and nowhere was that more apparent this week than watching the care and compassion they showed for each other and their teachers as they navigated this new school experience.
It has been a long time since we have asked kids to do many of the things that were expected of them this week: eating on a schedule, asking permission to use the bathroom, waiting safely in line. On top of that, children had to learn new procedures and routines that are understandably unnatural for them. However, in true Parker form, our students have absorbed these new rhythms with resiliency and humor, graciously accepting new customs in the spirit of being together. For many, the visceral joy of simply being with other children again was palpable.
Typically, our first week at Parker is spent building relationships and helping children to establish their identities, both individually and as a community. This year, we recognize that work is more important than ever. What would you see if you observed our classes this week? Thoughtfully orchestrated days designed to maximize opportunities for student interactions through exploring and doing. Teachers are taking great care to connect with students, forging critical bonds that will build confidence and motivation for learning in the weeks and months ahead. And our students are doing what they do best: exploring, questioning, and building connections.  Here is a peek at what some of that work looked liked this week:
Kindergarten students got to flex their growing independence and motor skills by graduating up to the “Big Kid” playground. Completing these rings is a right of passage here at Parker. This little boy tried multiple times before finally completing his first successful run. The pride and surprised delight on his face as he exclaimed “I did it!!!” reminded us all that even the smallest victories are huge when they are your first.
Nellie’s 3-4 class explored multiplication using plants found outdoors. After picking their samples, the students looked for regular groupings of leaves and then used them to practice skip-counting to arrive at the total number of leaves on their plant. The students then explored patterns on the various plants, and used those patterns as inspiration to sketch their own designs. They finished by recording their observations and discoveries in their math journals.
John Sherry treated his middle school scientists to a demonstration on air pressure as an introduction to their first unit studying the states of matter. Using a beaker, a balloon, and a hot plate, John ran several experiments that elicited excited gasps and wild hand-raising as his students volleyed to hypothesize answers.
Lynn’s 1-2 students spent hours in the woods this week discovering shared interests (frogs, mud, and building forts!) and beginning work on their outdoor classroom. Kids worked in pairs to make lists of “wants” and “needs” for their space, and they are now moving on to sketching and designing their dream spaces. In the weeks ahead, Lynn will work to support construction of both the individual designs, and help children to marry their ideas together to create a community space.
Studying in our Master Gardens.
*Robert C. Parker School follows NYS guidelines and protocols for school safety.