Partying with Purpose

Friday, November 11, 2016

Yesterday the entire school went on a field trip to Medieval Times, pre-schoolers through seniors. It was a really fun day AND it was perfect for reinforcing and highlighting everything we're covering in history and literature school-wide this year. Jousting, sword fighting, falconry, the code of now I have the perfect example to clarify the word "anachronism" for my kiddos who are reading The Sword in the Stone. We've been a little hazy on the meaning, but mail-clad knights taking selfies and talking about cyber bullying should clear things up perfectly!

Plus there were chicken legs. Yum.

We are definitely in that busy part of the school year where it seems like there's a celebration or field trip or special event or SOMETHING every time you turn around. I love it. Next week we will have our Thanksgiving feast and grandparent's day to kick off Thanksgiving break, and after the break it won't be long at all before we start on the Christmas celebrations. And you know, Halloween kind of just happened.

But y'all, seriously, the balance of work hard and play hard that we get to have at Flint is incredible. And incredibly rare! It's so much simpler to do one or the other, and cultivating that balance demands a lot of creativity and mindfulness from each teacher. 

It's not just that all of these events are carefully planned to be informative and to reinforce academics and cultural norms. Every party, every field trip, every most (haha!) tangential classroom conversation? We're still on. We're getting to know the kids better, observing how they interact outside of regular classroom conditions, noticing ways that they struggle or excel socially and practically. And then we turn right around with that information and make plans and adjustments so we can better nurture each one of them. 

Some students enroll at Flint and think it's going to be a school on Fridays, no homework in the grammar school and minimal homework in the upper school, awesome parties every time you turn around...then after a few days they announce that they've never had to work harder, not ever in their LIFE. Probably because we make every bit of class time count and insist on individual mastery. Not to mention the classes are all so small that you can't really slip through any cracks. Other students insist that Flint is the most fun, easy school ever. Probably because we're awfully sneaky with how we accomplish some of our academic goals, lots of our lessons are doing triple and quadruple duty, and well, let's be honest here, we're all hilarious

Also? It works. My tinies are singing songs about how to write numbers, reciting the bones of the human body, and voraciously reading about King Arthur. My eighth graders came to me already writing like champs, already in love with reading, already excited about books. My upperclassmen are practically brawling with each other to be the first to identify schemes and tropes in our literature (there may or may not be candy on the line there) and thrilled to death to start our new book club portion of of English class. Our grads are out there killin' it in the big wide world. 

That pretty much sums up our strange little school, actually. It's fun, and it's difficult, and it works!

We get that we seem unusual sometimes. After our Beowulf party last month a tour came past my classroom and looked in for a few minutes before continuing. "Oh good, we weren't doing anything weird this time!" exclaimed one of my students, who had been diligently writing. "It seems like we're always in the middle of something that looks crazy whenever a tour comes by."
"Love, we're surrounded by the remains of a Viking feast and there's a severed arm hanging on the wall. I'm not sure we looked exactly normal." I pointed out. 
"Oh. Well. Flint has it's own kind of normal, I guess."

So if you pop your head in, make sure you remember to look for the lesson that is invariably taking place beneath the surface of the fun. Maybe it looks like the advanced Latin class is just throwing a stuffed bird back and forth at each other, but ALSO they are creating complex Latin sentences on the spot. That kind of thing. 

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