In my two months of teaching sixth grade in Brooklyn, I especially know there are some outstanding, public elementary schools in this city!
On the second day of school, I had to ask my students, "What schools are you all coming from?" Already I could tell the children were bright and extremely articulate. The students were using accountable talk by connecting thoughts to their peers, they were using transitions in their writing and choosing huge, independent reading books. It was beautiful! So I made that connection and was curious to know more. Their responses were all "P.S. this" and "P.S. that." In non-New York terms, they were all coming from Brooklyn public schools.
I believe that all children are bright, some in unconvental ways. However, this brightness needs to be nurtured and in some cases, uncovered. It is refreshing to see students who are entering middle school, shining brightly and not afraid to be articulate and share what they know.
The other day, a student showed me her awesome fifth grade yearbook.
It was nice to see the poems written by some of my current students;
the trips attended; the social clubs including a sister circle (I'm part
of a sister circle!) and a boys-to-men club. Talk about teaching the
whole child, and fostering community! Prior to viewing
the yearbook, I already had an idea of this student's former school in terms of academics. It was nice to see that some of these academically rigorous elementary schools are also culturally rich in that they teach the whole child.
Teaching upper middle school for most of my career thus far, my focus has been on high schools, and more specifically high schools that accommodate students with special needs. Now that I teach sixth grade inclusion classes, I can see the fruit of solid elementary schools thanks to the children right in front of me. As for my current school, it's refreshing to be part of a rigorous, college preparatory school with high expectations of all, one that is also a public school.