How often do you hear the expression, “time flies”? I have decided that, yes, it does, and so the best response we can have is to fly with it! And so our Henley School Community has done just that in the first nine weeks of the 2015-16 school year. Your children have been amazing and their energy has ignited our hallways and learning spaces. I hope they share with you daily that they enjoy coming to Henley; our goal is to make our school somewhere that they can’t wait to get to!
Since the beginning of the school year, we have been working to integrate interactive technologies into our curriculum, assessment, and instruction. Now that every student has a laptop, we are able to strengthen our practices and align students’ experience from grades six through eight. While we expect growing pains along the way, our teachers and staff are comfortable “failing up,” as it sends a message to students that we are all lifelong learners, we will make mistakes, and we will learn and persevere as a result.
We strive for continuous improvement. Henley continues to be a school of excellence, yet, we are always looking for ways to improve our environment for students. One of the most important instructional design strategies that we have been employing as a school community is movement in the classroom. Our students need mental and physical breaks throughout the day and so our teachers have worked hard to incorporate “brain breaks” into each period so that students can take a few moments to refresh and refocus. As adults, we may take this practice for granted; as facilitators, we have to make this an explicit part of what we do. Our kids have already noticed a difference in their stamina and their engagement. Ask your students how they have been able to refocus throughout the day!
There have been a number of other instructional design challenges that teachers have been taking head on. For example, many teachers are creating opportunities for students to deepen their learning with questions that they are interested in pursuing. Our seventh grade Science teachers introduced, “Wonder Why,” a creative spin from the popular genius hour strategy where students have time to answer questions of their own design.
Our next BIG opportunity to display and exhibit student work will be our annual EXPO. I want to call your attention to its new date MARCH 30, 2016. Stay tuned for more details about this event and the phenomenal artifacts that will be on display as evidence of the learning work our students have done.
Lastly, I wanted to mention the progress occurring with our new physical education learning center. I am hoping the students can help us come up with something unique we can call it…it’s not just a gym, so what is it?? In any event, our new space is scheduled to be completed by Spring Break and we want to ensure the “ribbon cutting” gets the attention it needs, from both the students and the community.
I could consume this entire newsletter with the stories of Henley, our students, our teachers, and our successes! I can’t wait to see what is next for our school community. Thank you again for partnering with us for our students’ success. It’s so important that we are in this together. Here’s to continued exploration of our passions!
Beth Costa, principal