Have you heard a student mention having a “buddy?” Does your child talk about working with the “big kids?” Do you see a smile when the question “How was school today?” is answered with, “I helped a little kid.” From our youngest to the oldest students there is a bond formed by sharing an engineering activity, a holiday celebration, a quiet reading time, a math exploration, or even a picnic!
West Side Christian is a learning community. In a learning community there is collaborative effort and a collective responsibility to achieve shared goals. Students are not thought of as “my” students or “your” students but as “our” students. This happens when we have a commitment to a common purpose, careful planning and preparation. When we promote an environment that ensures learning for all students, we nourish the belief that all students will achieve success.
A recent example of our learning community in action started with second grade students in an elementary art class and extended to include classroom work and time with seventh grade friends as well.
Lesson objectives in the art class included creative use of recycled objects to make “relief” sculpture robots and problem solving. A surprise box of metallic “goodies” was very motivating. “I got my arms to boing!” “Mine is super shiny and pointed!” “Does this scare you?” were a few comments.
The next step was creative writing in the second grade classroom. Practicing the elements of a story with a “super cool” robot, deciding on a setting, problem, and solution was exciting. Students shared that “I liked naming myself (the robot)!” “I gave myself a bad problem to fix.” “This couldn’t really happen.”
Then came the help needed for editing. Seventh grade English students met with second graders in the tech lab. The middle schoolers practiced their grammar skills as they kindly made suggestions for corrections and changes. Their leadership and example of warmhearted guidance brought smiles to many faces. A few younger students enjoyed getting “to say what to type” and having a buddy to “help me so much!” A special set of buddies “got my sister!”
Sharing the final project was fulfilling for all students and their teachers. Seeing the evidence of “our” students using and sharing their God given gifts, abilities, and interests while they are learning and cooperating with each other is what makes West Side Christian a learning community, a fellowship of God’s precious children. These opportunities make a difference for “our” students.