As a Board member and generally involved parent at North Star I understand a lot about the operations and finances of the school, I read a lot about the philosophy of Montessori (this article was a recent favourite) and I’m familiar with the calendars and schedules. But it really isn’t until days like today, where I joined in on a fieldtrip to the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre that I get to see the true magic of North Star happen.
It was so enjoyable to see this group of eight Year Two and Three students in action! Our first stop was the bus. They were patient waiting in the rain and respectful on the bus. We had a minor incident where a handhold strap broke while a student was holding on. No one was hurt and once the shock of the incident passed the teacher asked the student a simple yet remarkable question. ‘So what will you tell the bus driver?’ I thought it was a profound way to teach. Do you handle the situation with embarrassment or fear that you did something wrong and just hide the broken piece away and get off the bus quickly? Do you get angry – ‘that wasn’t my fault!’ Are you apathetic and do nothing with the strap? Or…do you calmly identify the problem and bring it to the appropriate person’s attention (in this case the bus driver)? I thought it was beautifully handled.
The next stop was the Ecology Centre. The instructor at the Centre began with a talk about the elements of the forest. Her talk was interactive and I was really impressed with how much the kids knew (the carbon dioxide/oxygen cycle of a tree, coniferous and deciduous trees just to name a couple of facts), but also just the sheer joy they got out of sharing this info! They couldn’t get their hands up fast enough or high enough. Yet there was no yelling out and they were always respectful.
The day continued like this even outdoors in the pouring rain. On our trip home while waiting for the bus the teacher continued to engage the kids by getting them to come up with their own questions about what they learned that day to ask the other kids. A lot of great question were asked and it is no surprise that nobody forgot that the wood bug drinks out of its bum!
The day was a break from the routine for me and a real treat to confirm why I love being involved with North Star.