Thursday, 22 February 2024 15:52

I’ve Got Your Back

Written by
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

     I am sitting at the big table in the OG room with Eli, Graham, Lila and Samiyah. Everyone else has gone to music lessons and Samiyah and I are working through some math problems together – figuring them out – because she really wants to finish before she heads off to play the cello. Lila has her own math work in front of her, just wanting the support of having me close by so she can check in if she runs into something she’s not sure of. Graham is eager to get started on his long division and asks me to help him and Eli, but Samiyah is on a roll, and I want to see her through this problem. Lila quietly shifts her focus to Graham and Eli’s papers. “Long division?” she asks, “I can help you with that.” And she walks them through the problem, step by step, asking them questions to make sure it’s making sense. My attention is “divided” during this special moment, so I can listen in on Lila’s lesson and jump in if I need to. But she’s totally got it! I can trust that she knows what she’s talking about, and Eli and Graham trust that she knows, too. She is being kind and helpful and they know it.

     Scenes like this play out every day at school – a teacher close by, ready to step in, but waiting just long enough to witness the children teaching one another. It happened recently at the pool. One of the kindergarten children wanted all the pool toys for a personal game. Things were getting tense between him and his kindergarten peers. It seemed everyone wanted to use the same toys. An older group child floated over, said a few, well-chosen and kind words, and the tension sank away, making space for a new game.

     Sometimes children share information with one another because it helps play move forward and grow. Several older group children took up playing soccer during free times. We gathered the pieces of the old soccer goal from the basement and they re-built it out on the golf course. They played every chance they got and started getting better and better. When other interested children wanted to play, they needed to even the playing field by taking the time to teach some skills and explain the rules. The group built a second goal out of sticks and logs. Now they play, holding their positions, running plays, strategizing, taking coaching tips from each other and upping the level of play so that it is challenging and satisfying for everyone who is playing. While soccer is still a favorite, some attention is now shifting to basketball. The children are teaching each other games that, in another setting, might be called drills. 

     This sharing of information, skills, and interests happens every day at The Antioch School. It is a part of our school culture and one of the ways the fundamental structure of our school plays out every day for the children. We are not a top-down, hierarchical institution. We are a democratic school. Every voice and viewpoint holds value and is shown respect. When Lila teaches, it is to share information that classmates are asking for. When Jack-Henry coaches, it is to up the level of play. When Ayla tells a classmate what an axolotl is and how to pronounce it, it is to clarify communication about something they are both interested in. When Cong Cong shows his friends how to do a yo-yo trick, it’s because he wants them to learn it, too. Sharing what we know and what we are learning brings us closer together and strengthens our connections. It is a way of saying that it’s ok that you don’t know something, or that you are learning something new and might make mistakes while you get better at it. It’s like saying, “I know where you’re coming from because I’ve been there, too. And I’ve got your back!” 

Read 39 times Last modified on Thursday, 22 February 2024 15:55
More in this category: « The Spring Musical