relationship

Nov
23

Sharing Gratitude

On Friday morning, Opal School children, families, and teachers gathered together for our weekly school-wide gathering. This week, it was the Dogwood community of first and second grader’s turn to lead. They decided to spend that time sharing about what they are grateful for and then giving the audience a chance to do the same. […]

By Kerry Salazar | 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
23

The Importance of Documentation and Reflection in Building Community

In the Cottonwood community, one of our main focuses in the beginning of the school year is community building – which is foundational to all of our other curricular work. With each new group of children, we try to make visible to them our complex process of becoming a “we”. As teachers, we know that […]
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Sep
18

The Writing Kind of Life

“A writer’s notebook is like a ditch – an empty space you dig in your busy life, a space that will fill up with all sorts of fascinating little creatures.  If you dig it, they will come.  You’ll be amazed by what you catch there.” -Ralph Fletcher, A Writer’s Notebook Receiving a writer’s notebook has […]
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By Nicole Simpson-Tanner | Intermediate
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Jun
08

What are the children teaching me?

As a student teacher in Opal 3 this year, I continually find moments where my own growth parallels, intersects, is inspired by, and connects with the children’s growth. One instance where I experienced this was when the children began to unpack what it means to “listen to understand” vs. “listen to reply.” As a community […]
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By Sarah MacPherson | Intermediate
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May
30

What kind of community do you want to be in?

Many schools spend the first six weeks of school building community in order to establish a foundation that will support learning through the rest of the year. I can relate to the hope ofl developing caring relationships and problem-solving strategies that will keep us away from conflict. As a person who would inherently prefer to […]
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By Hannah Chandler | Intermediate
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May
09

How do conflicts, oopsies, and the strategies we use to work through them help support a community over time?

“It is important to practice problem solving strategies so we can use them solving our problems. We get better and better the more we practice! We might not even have to think about it next time.” -Ben, age 6 I strongly believe that all children hope to bring the best person they can be to even the toughest […]
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Sep
18

Tough Guy

Every word and action can send a message. It tells children — or students or athletes — how to think about themselves. It can be a fixed mindset message that says: You have permanent traits and I’m judging them. Or it can be a growth mindset message that says: You are a developing person and […]
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By Tara Papandrew | Beginning
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Feb
27

Constructing new ideas through dialog and the arts

During a recent Opal School Mentorship Program gathering, a group was discussing the quality of conversation they hear in Opal School classrooms. They were intrigued by the ways in which children see each other as “brain buddies”, creating ideas together – a discursive environment where, in order for someone to be “right”, others didn’t need to be […]
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Nov
06

Supporting Habits of Heart and Mind in New Terrain

Since “retiring”, Opal School Founder Judy Graves has been busy continuing her efforts to inspire greater educational opportunity for all children.  Here’s her report on her latest breakthroughs, exploring the implications of Opal School’s research with new communities: Teaching Preschools Offer Opportunities at Two Sites Two teaching preschools opened this fall to provide opportunities for some […]
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