Author: Tara Papandrew

Nov
16

Fear can’t survive proximity

What happens when fear drives our actions – and how can we interrupt it? This is a story about four-year old Mason. He is a passionate person, full of ideas, questions, and working theories of the world that he readily shares with his community. He has a generous heart with everyone and his perspectives of […]

By Tara Papandrew | Teaching and Learning
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Oct
30

Practicing strength by being vulnerable

Maintaining connection while feeling big emotions is something that we work hard on and practice a lot at this school. We want children to experience discomfort so they can practice being vulnerable and taking chances. When placing their idea into the world, like Bella did when she asked “are you still my friend?,  the children trust […]

By Tara Papandrew | Teaching and Learning
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Oct
05

Finding stories; finding each other

About once a week in the Alder community of 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds, we split the group in two, carefully considering friendships we want to support or stretch. We affectionately call this structure “half-sies.” The smaller groups  give each person (children and adults) a chance to see, hear, and know one another in new ways. […]

By Tara Papandrew | Teaching and Learning
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Sep
29

The Space Between Us

I couldn’t sleep Tuesday night, and when I compared notes the next morning with my colleague Mary Gage, she said she couldn’t sleep either. We were both replaying that night’s Back to School Night over and over again, dwelling on missed opportunities and missed connections. At 2am, my mind was looping the things I wish […]

By Tara Papandrew | Teaching and Learning
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Sep
20

The Courage to Show Up and Be Seen

Connection is the energy that is created between people when they are seen, heard, and valued — when they can give and receive without judgement. – Brené Brown At Opal School, we see all children as curious and competent citizens with rights. We see them driven to connect and eager to be understood. We know […]

By Tara Papandrew | Teaching and Learning
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May
02

Seeking to understand and be understood

In the beginning community of three-, four-, five-, and six-year-olds, the teachers hope to cultivate courageous thinkers, collaborators, and change makers. We want the children to know — as we do — that their ideas, theories and stories can change the world. This year, the big idea that the children and adults are co-researching in […]

By Tara Papandrew | Teaching and Learning
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Feb
09

The most important word is yet

In Alder, a community of 3-5 year olds, we were curious how children approached problems. We noticed how eager they were to run and get the strategy ring to support friends in conflict. Their heightened interest in this problem-solving tool led us to make strategy rings as gifts for the other classrooms. The children offered […]
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By Tara Papandrew | Beginning
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Jan
10

When I feel sad sometimes I get angry

After cracking open the word friendship, we started investigating emotions through literature, materials and dialogue. After reading When Sophie Gets Angry — Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang, we asked, What happens in our bodies when we have a big feeling? And what do you do when you have that big feeling? The children offered strategies, […]
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By Tara Papandrew | Beginning
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Oct
20

I can help

How might the process of creating, imagining, or inventing support the children’s sense of purpose and belonging in a community? This is one of the questions we included in our letter of intention. Playing with materials (and each other!) offers lots of opportunities for the children to make sense of the idea of community. We […]
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By Tara Papandrew | Beginning
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Oct
12

Sitting in the pocket of a rhythm

After I wrote this story, I felt like it was too personal. I wondered if, although supported my thinking, it might not be worth publishing. Then I had a moment of serendipity. Nassrin and I were talking about her first few weeks at our school, and she shared her reflection that when Caroline teaches, it’s […]
This content is available to sustaining members of Opal School Online. Already a member? Sign in at learning.opalschool.org and enjoy!
By Tara Papandrew | Beginning
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