by Jennifer Graham, Co-Chair of Langley’s Day of Giving and Parent of Langley Students in Grades 6 and 8
There are several phrases that are often used to describe The Langley School: great community, motivated and poised students, commitment to service learning. As I have worked on the planning and execution of Langley’s first-ever Week of Giving and Day of Giving, I have had the privilege of seeing all these phrases come to life, and this has served as a great reminder of the special place Langley is.
Almost one year ago, Langley’s 75th Anniversary Committee began brainstorming how to best celebrate this milestone birthday year. As the conversation unfolded, the committee began reflecting on the rich tradition of service that has been woven throughout Langley’s history. This led to the decision that a celebratory event focused on service had to be on the calendar. And so, the Week of Giving, culminating in a Day of Giving, was born. We had big dreams for creating a way for our community to serve together, and at every turn, every sector of our community has far exceeded those expectations. Continue reading →
By Chuck Schmidt, Instrumental Music Teacher and Band Director
In November, I had a moment when it really hit me how fortunate I am to be part of the music program at The Langley School. I started to write some recommendation letters for eighth-graders and updated my typical opening sentence to: “In this, my 25th year at The Langley School….” For 25 years, I have been part of a wonderful team of performing arts teachers, helping students of every age have fun making music. Because I also set up sound and lights for most of our performances, I also get to see and hear students younger than the ones I typically teach share their music in performances as well.
By Stephie Meadows, Kindergarten Teacher at The Langley School
Writer’s Workshop publishing parties are among the most exciting milestones for our kindergartners. Our classrooms buzz with excitement as students eagerly await their turn to wiggle onto the share stool and proudly present their published book to the class. The writing they share has been carefully selected after weeks of brainstorming, peer editing, re-reading, and “fancying up” for this anticipated event. Our kindergartners are guided through the true writing process and learn to successfully plan, edit, and prepare an original piece of work that is then bound into their very own book.
I’m always struck by the growth I see from one publishing celebration to the next. Students begin the year sharing a simple story with scarce letters on a page and transform within just a few short months into confident, capable authors. Our end-of-the-year party reveals five- and six-page “how-to” manuals that students have thoughtfully constructed to serve as a teaching guide for their friends. Students listen carefully as their classmates’ books teach topics such as how to make a pizza or how to be a sneaky little brother. These stories elicit many oohs, ahhs, and laughs from teachers and peers alike. Continue reading →
The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code,” to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with one-hour coding activities and expanding to all sorts of community efforts.
The Hour of Code takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week, which is typically the first week of December. The Hour of Code has now become a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. Langley students of all ages have participated in the Hour of Code each year since 2014. To learn more, visit https://hourofcode.com.
by Kristi Graninger, Langley parent and PALS (Parents Association of Langley) Speakers Committee Member
This is just one of many questions parents are asking themselves these days. As parents of digital natives, technology has introduced so many “firsts” for us to navigate as our children get older and gain independence.
As part of the The Langley School’s commitment to parent education and partnering together as we raise children, we were fortunate to haveDr. Devorah Heitner, author of Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World and founder of Raising Digital Natives, speak to parents last week. Dr. Heitner talked about how digital habits are formed when children are young and what we can do as parents to ensure healthy behaviors now and into adulthood. Below are just a few of Dr. Heitner’s tips from the session that we wanted to share.
Tips from PALS Speaker Dr. Devorah Heitner (excerpted from her recent newsletter)
Set respectful rules of engagement.
Sharing pictures of your kids takes control away from them. The same goes for updates about them in your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter feed. Luckily, there’s a simple rule: Ask their permission! Asking your kids before sharing teaches them that you respect them and their privacy. What’s more, this practice brings up the opportunity to discuss boundaries with your children. Set up some rules. Every single member of the family should be on the same page about posting or sharing images of other family members.
By Dr. Sarah Sumwalt, Director of Social and Emotional Learning at The Langley School
What’s all the buzz about SEL?
The term social-emotional learning (SEL) has become ubiquitous in the field of education. SEL also dominates the mainstream media, with articles peppering news sources about the role of SEL in the classroom. Just last week, the D.C. Schools chancellor, Antwan Wilson, argued that students need to feel “loved, challenged, and prepared” and shared his vision for bringing an increased focus on social-emotional learning into the District’s classrooms.
Despite the intense current interest in the topic, the term social-emotional learning is not new. In fact, it has been a widely used term since the late 1990s. Definitions of the term typically include references to intrapersonal (e.g., self-awareness and self-management) and interpersonal (e.g., social awareness and relationship skills) competence. However, there is not one agreed upon definition and many differ on exactly what skills SEL entails. Continue reading →
As our 75th school year begins, our hallways are once again filled with the laughter of children, the gifts of friendship, and the comfort in knowing we have a joyous place to learn and grow each and every day. Of course, these happy emotions can be hard to reconcile with the helplessness we may feel in our inability to act and in the guilt we may feel in our abundance as we watch so many in our country and around the world battle the destructive and unrelenting forces of Mother Nature. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and the earthquake in Mexico have wrought untold devastation in the Caribbean, Mexico, Texas, Florida, and much of the south. The needs are many and urgent as families, businesses, and schools are trying to survive, regroup, and rebuild. It is in these times that Langley shines brightest as we come together to help those who most need our support.
Dr. Jane Goodall, former Lower School Head Ghetta Hirsch, and former Head of School Doris Cottam speaking to students about the Roots & Shoots service program which Langley still uses for service learning today.
“Summer is like childhood. It passes too fast. But if you’re lucky, it gives you warm memories from which you take strength in the cold days ahead. Summer is also like childhood, in that you may not think what you are doing matters very much while you are doing it, but later you realize it mattered far more than you knew.” -from The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness byEdward Hallowell
I was blessed early in my educational career to hear Dr. Ned Hallowell speak on the topic of childhood and raising authentically engaged, happy, and healthy young adults. I certainly didn’t know it at the time, but Dr. Hallowell put me on an educational journey as a teacher that ultimately resulted in my coming to lead The Langley School, a place with a mission at the heart of what I believe is most essential in education, and frankly, in life. Continue reading →
I am sure you have thought to yourself, maybe more than once, “I wish I had more hours in the day.” I know I have. While balancing both personal and professional responsibilities, many times I find myself wondering, “Where has this day gone?”
I can tell you from personal experience that teachers are always trying to find new and innovative ways to maximize the instructional minutes during the school day. Excellent schools, like The Langley School, look for ways to balance the academic program (math, language arts, social studies, science, and specials) with our students’ well-being (structured and unstructured times for student interactions such as lunch, breaks, and recess). Though school schedules might look simple, they are really complex road maps that truly impact teachers’ decisions about their instruction. The length of the class period, the time of the class during the day (morning or afternoon), and the sequence of classes (does it come before or after lunch or recess?) during the day are just some of the considerations that teachers think about when planning lessons.
This week, I’ll have the pleasure of meeting with the fifth-grade parents to discuss their children’s progress during parent/teacher conferences. Spring conferences are my favorite discussions, as they’re focused on the progress each student has made, and my hopes for their sixth-grade transition. The conferences also kick off the emotional unwinding of the end of a school year. Every school year is a fluctuation of progress, but teachers, students, and families begin to see the overall linear line of growth toward the end of the year. This is why at conferences I’ll be focusing on growth of character, independence, and resiliency, as opposed to growth in grades. Over the past month, my fifth-graders embarked on their greatest challenge of the year — an inquiry-based project on Egypt from our social studies class — and their success was not marked by a grade, but rather by an empowered sense of self.
Taking the First Step Toward Growth I started our inquiry project by telling the students they might feel uncomfortable and frustrated, but that we needed to learn to embrace frustration in order to grow and build our problem-solving skills. From the perspective of a fifth-grader, an inquiry project can feel unsupported, unguided, and as if their teacher has abandoned them. Breaking from the structures of detailed rubrics, graphic organizers, and step-by-step directions can be overwhelming and scary.