The Window: A Glimpse Into Our Classrooms

Voices of Our Children

Each day, I find myself acutely aware of all of the different noises that resound throughout our hallways and classrooms. There are the facility-related sounds, such as the PA system and doors opening and closing: phones ring, papers rustle, book bags drop to the floor. All of these sounds remind me of the hushed chatter of an audience anticipating the start of a symphony, but the music truly begins with the voices of our children.

Their voices weave together with the complexity of different instruments in an orchestra. Friendly conversation in the halls is like the faint whistle of flutes. From inside the gym, shouts of encouragement sound like the beat of timpani drums. “Oohs” and “aahs” over experiments in our science labs swell like the string section. Melodically, teachers and students engage in dialogue. Students’ questions carry the music to a crescendo, just before the sound of their laughter ties the concerto together.

As I listen each day to …

Posted by Mr. Matthew Aborn on Thursday February 18, 2016
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Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

On Gobbler's Knob, on a glorious Groundhog Day: February 2, 2016, Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of all Prognosticators, awoke to the call of President Bill Deeley and greeted his handlers, John Griffiths and Ben Hughes. After casting a joyful eye towards thousands of his faithful followers, Phil took a sniff of the air, looked for his shadow, and once again determined for us if we would have an early spring this year. While the accuracy of Phil’s predictions is sometimes called into question, the tradition itself is fun and has become popular in American culture.

In 1993, the actor Bill Murray starred in a movie called Groundhog Day where he played a news reporter named Phil sent to cover the event. He looked at the assignment as trivial and resented the fact that as a big city reporter he was sent to a small town to cover what he saw as a relatively insignificant event. The twist of the movie occurs when Phil continually wakes each morning to find …
Posted by Mr. Matthew Aborn on Tuesday February 2, 2016
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The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

On Monday, the nation celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to commemorate the birth and life of a man who non-violently led the nation to end legal discrimination based on race. We remember Dr. King as a great orator, one who could inspire and energize millions with the rise and fall of his voice and his visionary speech. King was also a master of rhetoric in writing, arguably best witnessed in his seminal "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," which he wrote in response to criticism of his actions by several white Alabaman clergymen. In it, King eloquently appeals to his "fellow clergyman," while simultaneously appealing to the American public, to meet injustice with protest, wherever it rears its head, and to more carefully weigh the fairness of laws before blindly agreeing to follow them. Despite drafting the letter on the very newspaper which contained the white clergymen's critique, King wrote a masterpiece of ethos, pathos, and logos, so much so that the letter has become a …

Posted by Mr. Matthew Aborn on Wednesday January 20, 2016
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It Takes a Village . . .

Many of us are familiar with the proverb that states it takes a village to raise a child. As we continue our partnership this year between school and home, I am reminded of this piece of conventional wisdom. It is so wonderful to be a part of our group of parents, teachers, and administrators working together in such concrete and constructive ways on behalf of the children we all care for and value so much. In modern times, any self-selected community of individuals who have banded together to provide mutual support and fulfillment to each other might constitute a village of the type indicated by the proverb. But a school community and arguably a progressively-minded community like ours, where the mortar is our shared commitment to celebrating who each child is, supporting him/her to develop that uniqueness, and then providing him/her with new tools to share what they learn with the world in a socially responsible way- now that is a village uniquely poised to raise its children with …

Posted by Mr. Matthew Aborn on Tuesday January 12, 2016
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Curiosity Killed the Cat?

In an age dominated by search engines and high-speed Internet, I often question the longevity of wonder. Facts and information are more readily available to a broader group of people than ever before in history, which is both a blessing and a curse. I frequently catch myself "googling" a question to satiate my curiosity about something. 

For instance, as I began this piece, I quickly typed into my search engine, "history of saying curiosity killed the cat," and learned that this phrase, which so many adults in particular use to quiet children's inquisitiveness, only relatively recently came to hold that meaning. The original saying uses the word "care," meaning worry, to mean that worry killed the cat. Interesting, I thought, but forgettable. In seconds, I was able to derive an answer to a pesky question, which so many questions seem to have become. Rather than roll my question around in my mind like a unique and intriguing object, I glanced at it and tossed it aside. It may seem …

Posted by Mr. Matthew Aborn on Tuesday November 17, 2015
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Differentiating Instruction: A Focus on Modalities

One of my favorite sights on our campus is the community gardens. Over the years, parents, students, teachers, and administrators have contributed their time and energy to helping them flourish and it is a joy to see the products of the collective efforts. It strikes me, too, that a garden is in many ways a microcosm of our classrooms. Students grow under the care of their teachers and parents from one season to the next. Like plants, which all need sun, water, and soil, all students have basic needs that must be met in order for them to develop: a safe learning environment, a knowledgeable and dedicated teacher, and a rigorous, engaging curriculum. However, in order to truly thrive, students must have teachers who can tailor their instruction to meet their particular needs, just as a gardener might cultivate diverse plants within one plot by giving abundant sun to one and shade to another.

Many of you may have some understanding of what this instructional practice might look like in …

Posted by Mr. Matthew Aborn on Tuesday October 20, 2015
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The Role of Joy in Learning: Must We Move Mountains?

We wish, at a minimum, for our children to feel contented with school, with home life, with their friends, and perhaps most importantly, within themselves. Of course, our deeper desire is that they regularly experience true joy, a persistent joy that does not easily dissipate in the face of challenges or peak and valley as do our bodies after a sugar rush. Many of the things we most want to give them cannot be bought, packaged, or gifted to them. We cannot provide children with joy, but there are paths to joy that we can brush clear as we walk alongside them as fellow travelers and guides. Schools often embrace a false dichotomy: children can either learn or enjoy themselves. However, metaphorically speaking, whether the paths educators walk with children lead over mountains or along river valleys can make all the difference in the joy they experience.

Both mountains and rivers are objectively beautiful, but when thinking about their characteristic differences, the former is fixed, …

Posted by Mr. Matthew Aborn on Tuesday October 13, 2015
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Celebrating Community

We commonly use the word “communityto describe, on a basic level, the collective members of a school: students, parents, teachers, non-teaching staff, and administrators. The word also evokes togetherness, commonality, a shared vision and purpose. Ideally, when a school refers to its community, it also refers to the special ties that bind it together.

The Green Acres School community is healthy and strong. It is vibrant and connected, and this is reflected in the thoughtful work teachers and children have undertaken together to begin the new school year with a foundation of trust, accountability to oneself and to others, respect, curiosity, and embracing of differences.

Arguably, the Green Acres School community, past and present, values diversity even more than similarity: honoring an individual’s uniqueness is often prioritized over promoting cohesion. Author Eckhart Tolle wrote: “Each person’s life—each life form, in fact—represents a …

Posted by Mr. Matthew Aborn on Tuesday September 22, 2015
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