Dear Lovely Volunteers,
Practical Arts Community
Last Thursday was our school's town hall meeting. We each described what the "community" in Mountain Sage COMMUNITY School meant to us. I shared that each week about 13 adults work in my handwork and woodwork classes. I shared that it wasn't just me teaching our kids, but our community teaching our children--exactly how these skills have been taught over the centuries. One person teaching another. I am thankful that you are part of our learning and teaching community.
On Tuesday, November 29th, we will be having an assembly during 6th grade handwork and probably part of Miss Barman's 4th Grade Class. If you are a Tuesday volunteer you can either take the day off or come in and watch the assembly from the back of the room.
Thanksgiving Break Begins Wednesday, November 25th and goes through Monday, November 30th. There will be no classes on these days.
Classes Resume on Tuesday, December 1.
Three Bags Full Fiber Arts Week
Immediately upon return from Thanksgiving break we begin an exciting week of experiential learning. During Three Bags Full Fiber Arts Week, a spinner and weaver are coming in to demonstrate their arts in our library. We'll have looms and drop spindles for children to try themselves. I'm also hoping that we will have lots of other adults (like you!) that will just come in and knit or spin or felt or do whatever fiber craft (whittling would be great too!) so our children will see people doing real work. We'll be holding our handwork classes in the library so we can see the artisans at work. Your presence in our classroom will be very important during this time. It is harder to hold a class in the library space and keeping kids busy and engaged will be key to a productive experience for everyone.
Class Noise Levels
First a little science. Did you know that every part of the body is represented in your brain in the primary motor cortex and these representations are arranged somatotopically--the foot is next to the leg which is next to the hip? Importantly for our work--the hands are next to the face/tounge/ larynx. For this reason I think that handwork and speech are natural companions.
People love to work with their hands and talk. Spinning Bees, Sit and Knits, Quilter's Retreats, the iconic men whittling in front of the general store--these are all people that have gathered to do handwork and talk. This is why I love a chatty class.
Chatty class where everyone is engaged--A-OK. Noisy class with idle hands--not OK. This week and next at the beginning of each class we'll be practicing the skill of modulation our voices. Here is my plan.
1. No shhh-shing. We have a school wide practice of avoiding the ineffectual practice of shhh-shing children. (I also think this is a sign of respect. I'd never shhhsh an adult.)
2. It is natural for groups of people to get louder over time since they are simply raising their voice so they can be heard over other groups. I've been using verbal reminders to "reset" the noise level but now I'll be using a musical tone instead. We'll be practicing this skill at the beginning of each class for the next few weeks.
3. You have permission to use the tone, too, when the sound level rises. If you are raising your voice so students can hear you then our class is too noisy. You can also shut the classroom door if you think we are bothering other classes or if hallway noise is contributing to noise in our classroom.
4. I'll continue to use Teacher Time at the beginning and end of class when I expect complete attention and student silence unless they've raised a hand and been called on.
5. I'll continue to have Heart Beat Work days for classes that I think need focused attention on their work. During these days or portion of class we will work in silence. So far we've used these when a class is learning a new skill or when I think they are not being productive. We must remember that not all kids like to chatter--some prefer quiet work. After Three Bags Full Fiber Arts Week, you'll see me incorporate more of this type of work into the first part of each class.
Around our dinner table on Thursday, my family will each share for what we are grateful. I'll be sharing that I am grateful to be surrounded by so many creative people. Thank you.
Mrs. Barbara Albert