Talia Fishbine, Assistant to the Lower School Head and Communications Intern
One of the best things about having my office in the Primary Unit building—besides the incredible view of our woods, of course—is that my days are filled with the sounds of engaging discussions and copious laughter that emanate from our 1st and 2nd graders on a daily basis. As children make their transitions or work in the Gathering Space, I overhear thoughtful inquiries and engaged conversations that make it evident that our students are genuinely curious about and invested in learning. This is quite different from my own—and, I'm sure, many of our—experiences in school, where children are eager at the end of the day to leave learning in the classroom "where it belongs." At Green Acres, though, our students are figuring out that which makes our graduates so successful: To love learning for the sake of learning is to have an entire world of possibilities open to you.
The Primary Unit plays an integral role in nurturing students' identities as lifelong learners. To find out more about how this happens, I decided to chat with Irene, our 2nd grade teacher, about the unique ways in which our Primary Unit program provides the foundation upon which children will grow and blossom.
Talia: How would you describe intrinsic motivation and why we value it so much at Green Acres?
Irene: To me, what that means is a child who is self-driven and self-motivated. When children are self-driven and self-motivated, they are able to extend and expand their own learning. It helps me as a teacher because when I know what they're interested in, I can base my lessons around their likes, which makes their learning more fun and engaging.
T: How do you support children to be intrinsically motivated in your classroom?
I: I try to get to know them as individuals and what they're into. I can alter my lessons based on their likes and interests. If they're connected to it, I find that they're more motivated and self-driven.
T: When a child loves learning for the sake of learning, what does that look like in the Primary Unit?
I: That looks like lots of smiles, kids who are more in-tune with their day, and better communication between peers. One unit where you can really see this is the weaving unit. They're so into it because it's hands-on, and they're even weaving while I'm reading—like all day, they're weaving. That's one of the units that's always made the biggest impression on me. It's unbelievable how much weaving goes on—so much so that even when the unit is done, they're still wanting to weave, and I have to find ways to integrate it into what we're doing next!