The Joyful Classroom
March 31, 2016

Who would have thought that after more than a week off of school, sleeping in, playing games, traveling, and spending time with family, children would be running into school? Well, I, for one, knew it would happen. Harbor students are simply joyful about coming to school.

In a new book called The Joyful Classroom: Practical Ways to Engage and Challenge Students (by the folks who brought us the Responsive Classroom Curriculum used throughout the school), we learn about incorporating activities that kids will love. The authors list six characteristics of engaging academics and I can honestly say that our teachers embody each and every one:

    • Learning is active.
    • Learning is interactive.
    • Learning is appropriately challenging.
    • Learning is purposeful.
    • Learning is connected to students’ interests and strengths.
    • Learning is designed to give students some autonomy and control.

A perfect example of learning that incorporates all of the above is Harbor’s unique Spiral Curriculum. It begins with choosing an area of focus driven by the students’ interests. Teachers introduce topics to fuel curiosity, discussion, and action, tailoring the lessons to keep children engaged and engrossed in The children interact with one another, with the teacher, and with classroom materials (books, art supplies, SmartBoard, etc.) to make connections. They exercise autonomy and control over some of the ways in which to demonstrate what they have learned. Spiral is a group effort, and as you witnessed on Spiral Night, and truly an experience that is hard to describe in words! I cannot wait to start planning around the topic for next year!

Harbor School