In Umberto Eco’s book Foucault’s Pendulum, the main character ponders what he learned from his father.
As he states, “I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.” I’ve often pondered that as a teacher … What are my students learning from me when I’m not trying to teach them? What little scraps of wisdom are they picking up from us throughout the day?
As a society, and as educators, we sometimes get lost in the numbers. What are your ISTEP scores? What are the average math and reading scores? What grade did your school receive? Of course these are important, and as educators we are constantly looking at new ways to teach our kids, to get the most from them, and to set them up so that they can achieve whatever it is they want to accomplish. But to truly understand what it is you are getting from your school, you need to dig a little deeper. You need to look beyond the published data and find out about the culture of the school.
At Fegely Middle School, there is an incredible amount of concern on the part of our teachers and it shows through in the things that they do for our kids. Our Warrior Pride club discusses the effects of bullying throughout our school and the ways in which we can combat this problem. The teacher in charge of this club is a wonderful role model for the students whose care and concern create positive moments for our students. Our sixth-grade teachers have started the “Oops, I forgot my Lunch” program where the teachers support any child who has forgotten his lunch. They saw a need and were concerned enough to find a solution.
Besides these, we have many other clubs where you will find a compassionate teacher willing to give her time and energy to a group that otherwise wouldn’t be able to meet. There’s a Dance club, a Spirit Squad, the Drama club and even a newly formed Dungeons and Dragon club, plus many more.
In addition, Fegely has a rich tradition of events that provide meaningful moments for the kids. Candlelight Inn is a sit down dinner we do every year, either at Thanksgiving or Valentine’s Day, where the kids can sit down and have a formal meal with both the teachers and their classmates. Adult volunteer act as servers as the students enjoy a family style meal. Another popular event is the teachers versus student athletic games. These games involve eighth-grade students competing against the adult staff members in football, volleyball or basketball. These are just some of the ways we try to create a positive culture.
What behaviors do we model for our children? What are we teaching them when we aren’t trying to teach? At Fegely Middle School, we don’t just teach the state standards, we model compassion, trust and a hard work ethic. We’ve created an environment where odd moments—teachable moments—are allowed to flourish. And these are the things you won’t find on any report card.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion.