Wednesday, January 4, 2017

We're All In This Together.

Happy 2017!

The two weeks of holiday whizzed by and, with them, the memories of 2016 will soon become a smaller blip in the rear view window as we rush forward. 2017 seems beautiful as we enter it's sunlit days and feel the cool breeze on our faces. And in good times experiences are best shared, and so too is learning. And in learning, collaboration is often is the defining element of rewarding experiences. 

Take a few examples of student-adult collaboration, for example. Recently the ES Roots & Shoots club was walking through the ES halls with Mr. Advento (ES Principal) and Mr. Jones (Facilities Director) identifying locations for new water dispensers. The students were part of an adult-child collaboration involving mutual decision making, map skills, planning and, finally, change. The dispensers have already been placed in the halls!

A more obscure example, to the passer-by would be a small pipe that runs down the wall from the roof to the outdoor garden set up by Grade 2. A multiple year project this space has seen the students and teachers involved in creating first an indoor planting area and then - after recognizing the problems with limited sunlight - the move outdoors to its present "home". Once outdoors, however, students identified the problem of a water source.  A persuasive letter-writing campaign ensued with Mr. Advento receiving a good number of requests. He, in turn, contacted the facilities department and made the change. January 2 was met with smiles in grade 2! In fact, so powerful was the experience that their teacher would later state "it really empowered my students. Now they're thinking, 'What can we do next? What could happen if we keep asking questions? The power of possibility!  It also led to a conversation about responsibility - how can we make sure we don't waste water?'". 

HS students have also been busy collaborating in authentic ways. The engineering class was called in to assist Ms. Carden with the need for a kitchen in the garden. Several proposals were made and a design was chosen. The design itself has been developed further since then and the final result will support the extensive use of the garden as soon as it's ready. 

And what about that space just inside Gate 1 as you pass the first elementary school building?  What is that funny looking space?  It turns out that the HS art department is working on redesigning and repurposing the garden space to make it more interactive. Designed much like a labyrinth the space utilizes natural elements (e.g. stone, plants, sand) to highlight the interaction between the community and the space is utilizes.  All we need now is a name. :-)

And the water bottle vending machines? This too was a collaborative project between our administration and our students. The newly formed Sustainability Action Team has been working with our administration to support new changes to campus which began with the removal of the water vending machines from campus (okay, they are still there right now, but do not function and will be removed soon). The team members conducted observational research related to recycling and food waste on campus with the longer term plan of becoming a more sustainable campus.

At ASD, as in real life, education is not a static unidimensional experience. It is dynamic and ever changing and involves adults and students alike. It includes the growth of critical consciousness alongside the development of solution-oriented skills. It takes a village, they say... and fostering global contributors sure is a collaborative endeavor. 

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