2012 General Meeting Welcome

Welcome Families,

It is wonderful to have all of us here together tonight.

First I wanted to thank each of you for choosing Maple Street School for your child and family.  I also want to thank you for committing to our cooperative model, and the labor of love we participate in to create and support a diverse and creative learning and playing school for our children.

I had started a speech on reflection, and then read a quote by Loris Malaguzzi, an early childhood hero from the Reggio Emilio philosophy. He said,

Stand aside for a while and leave room for learning, observe carefully what children do, and then, if you have understood well, perhaps teaching will be different from before.

So I listened for thirty seconds, and I heard Mae in the threes class say to the children, at her table, “Why do mommies and daddies go away?”

This was it; standing back, and making space, and leaving room for learning and conversation.  I walked out with my notebook, and listened to this important question and the answers that were important, deeply interesting, wonderful and humorous.

The answers are a unique lens into what children see and feel. I will share them with you, and then of course in the coop spirit, I am going to ask for help turning this subject into a short film for orientation next year. So parents and children can hear about separation directly from those who have experience it.

So the question, Mae’s question, was “Why do mommies, and mamas, and daddies, and papas, and caregivers go away?

The answer:

Well first, Ben went huh hmm, and cleared his throat, and explained, “They have to buy things like comic books and superhero toys.”

Henry W. said confidently, “They go to work!”

Well then Nadia looked at Ben and said, “Well, they have to pull things apart.”

And so I asked, “What do they have to pull apart? And Ben added, “Computers,” and Nadia agreed, “Yes, their computers.

And then Zoe quietly whispered, “Money, she has to pay money.”

And then I traveled to the next lunch table to hear more answers, and Uma responded, “Mommies and daddies leave to get new money.”

And Varick chimed in, “They do paperwork and buy new stuff; toys, and you don’t know which one it will be.”

Osa then explained, “they type, type, type, and then they make a game for you.”

So it’s good to know what some of the Waves parents do after drop-off.  I continued down to the Roots, and most of them were napping, though a few had something to say.

Henry W. expressed that “mommies and daddies write books and make movies” when he is at school, and then added, “like my daddy.”

Eva then explained that her mom is teaching children and that her dad is in Manhattan and she does not know what he is doing. Then she asked me several times to write “love Eva, babysitter”. So I am adding that for her.

Nicholas then said, “They have to work and take a nap, well don’t say take a nap, well she has to get clothes from the Gap? Did you know that? Do you know how to spell Gap, let me get my shoe, here it is Gap. I can spell mom and Gap.”

Leo and Theo then had a discussion about where their moms were, and decided that they were working and writing notes.

Finally, I made it over to the Stars, and only Lincoln and Molly were awake.

I asked Molly where Mommies and Daddies go and she said, “He went home on the train. Daddy went on the train. He is on the seat.”

Then I asked Lincoln, and he said, “They went bye.” I asked if he went on the train and he said, “No, Not yet. Not yet.”

So how is teaching different from before with this knowledge of what children do and say, besides knowing that all of you are working and shopping? It is different in that when we reflect on how children experience the world with them, we grow deeper into our learning both as individuals and as a school.

We can separate children better. Make a video, engage in meaningful conversations.  We know what they need from us; to explain where mommies and mamas and dads go. We can add to their experience. Find out about what families do and where they go that is the same and different such as the train, shopping etc.

We can add to curriculum and have fun with it. Skype with parents during the day, create a work or office in our classroom, pull things apart like a computer. We can build our organization by reflecting on the thoughts of all of our learners in it, from our very youngest to all of you.

As I reflect for one last time on what it was about “reflect”, and then not, and then about “reflection”, that final piece is your thoughts and conversations with your children.

If your child has separated fully, have a conversation about what you do all day when you leave, and then perhaps turn it around and wonder what they do all day, and you may find out when you leave, we are shopping, pulling things a part, making games, and writing books and making movies too.

Thank-you again for being on this early childhood learning journey with us!