The arrival of the March Break each year, followed by our return to school, is a perennial experience for students, teachers, and families. And excursions abroad, trips to the tropics, domestic adventures, and “stay-cations” all provide plenty of fodder for classroom sharing and reflection as we all get back to the work of more traditional forms of learning.
It is also true that time away from routines can allow a person to “re-set” in order to tackle the challenges that lie ahead. For students in the spring of the year, this is usually a chance to begin again along the path of learning success – academic, social, and physical.
The act of “re-setting” is the decision to return to an initial state, a starting point, a clean slate. It is typically applied to a device or a switch, but can easily be used to describe a new beginning complete with all the possibilities. For elementary students, this opportunity to “re-set” occurs at the start of a new term or even a new day.
When a clean slate is offered, a person’s previous record of performance (a record that may show evidence of problems, broken rules, mistakes, a lack of focus, poor understanding, etc.,) is begun anew. George Eliot, the author of Silas Marner, put it this way: “It is never too late to be what you might have been!” She was exactly right.
As we welcome students back to the final term of the year, we already know what their “soft spots” are. We also know where they need support and we understand much more about their learning profiles and social and emotional needs after several months of accompaniment. However, if a spring re-set is to be effective, we must understand it as an accord to which all parties are in agreement – students, teachers, and parents.
How can we do this? It’s really very simple. American author Robert Fulghum summed it up most notably in his book All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten. He correctly observed that we are sent to school to be civilized—to be introduced to the essential machinery of human society, which is learning how to learn and knowing how to act.
Robert Fulghum reminds us that “what we learn in kindergarten comes up again and again in our lives as long as we live. In far more complex, polysyllabic forms, to be sure. In lectures, encyclopedias, bibles, company rules, courts of law, sermons, and handbooks. Life will examine us continually to see if we have understood and have practiced what we were taught that first year of school.”
When we re-set after the spring break, it is an opportunity to do just that – and, as Fulghum encourages – it can only be done well if we “hold hands and stick together!”
Ric Anderson, Head of School