professional development

Jun
17

On the edge of Symposium, thinking without bannisters

Opal School’s Summer Symposium begins Wednesday.  It’s a frenetic time around the building: having said goodbye to students last week, teachers are setting up their classrooms for visitors, creating documentation panels, and writing presentations (not to mention annual academic reports).  It’s a time of long days and nights consumed by deep reflection and meaning-making – of […]

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Apr
19

Reading the World 2017: Literacy, Creativity, Sustainability, and the Principles of Engagement

In order to read the world, we must be moved by what we see.In order to create, we must have a strong desire to examine what has moved us.In order to sustain this world we have made and seen and read, we must understand why we were moved.We cannot be moved without relationships. L.C., teacher-participant […]

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May
17

Transformational Leadership

Last week, a post from Erin Dunn Baker showed how one teacher’s experience at Opal School influenced inquiry with the third graders she works with.  Here, Susie Morice describes how her study of Opal School is shaping her thinking.  Susie’s post first appeared on the blog of the Santa Fe Center for Transformational School Leadership. Transformational Schools by […]

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May
13

Making pickles

Opal School exists not only to influence its immediate community: It lives to provoke change far and wide. We know that our workshops catalyze change – but only rarely do we get a window into the ripples.  Below, you’ll read how Erin Baker brought some of the juice from the Reading the World workshop back to her […]

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Apr
25

It’s not about the towers, either

I start this post with a shout out to Allie Pasquier, whose recent Bakers and Astronauts post catalyzed this one.  Her post examined how the ephemera of our classrooms – the surface layers – the branches – are not important in and of themselves, but only insofar as they are reflective of deeper values. The […]

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Mar
13

Living in Questions

Visitors to Opal School are oftentimes struck by the quantity and quality of the questions they encounter here. At Opal School, we aim to live in inquiry.  As the panel above reveals, questions allow us to remain alongside children in genuine curiosity and wonder.  We immerse our questions whose answers point to the unknown, rather […]

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Feb
24

Expanding empathy; making change

Last week, I represented Opal School at Ashoka Changemaker Schools Network Summit in Oracle, Arizona. The Changemaker Schools Network is a global community of elementary, middle, and high schools whose approaches to developing empathy and agency have the potential to inspire a new educational framework. Over an intense three-and-a-half days, sixty representatives from 27 schools explored […]

By Nicole Simpson-Tanner | Teaching and Learning
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Feb
14

Reflections on Opal School Visitation Days 2016

Two weeks ago, teachers and administrators from more than thirty schools across North America gathered at Opal School for our annual Visitation Days, dedicated to investigating conditions that support a “playful inquiry” approach to learning.  Over two-and-a-half days, this diverse group of participants investigated classroom environments, observed class in session, responded to presentations by Opal […]

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Jan
27

Creativity (on the edge of chaos)

This morning, Opal School students, families, teachers and friends gathered in the theater for the weekly gathering.  Opal 3 shared poems they’ve written, each revealing aspects of friendship.  After reading several entries, members of the class stood at the door with baskets filled with their poems – gifts for each member of the community to leave with. […]

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Dec
17

Where do you get your professional development?

  Magnolia Room (Grades 1-2) whole class doodle.  “It’s like an idea seed…” The question comes up, at some point, during almost every study tour.  A visiting educator will ask: Where do Opal School teachers get their professional development? I understand why the question is asked with such regularity.  The question poser came to Opal School […]

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