Entering the West Roxbury Educational Complex, which currently houses four small schools, is always an adventure. I walked to the back of the building, through a long corridor blocked off by partitions, past a courtyard filled with piles of dirt, around a corner, and through a set of double doors. What a delight to emerge into Brook Farm Academy”‘s “Hall of Flags,” to find students conversing at round tables and shopping at a store run by seniors.
I was invited to visit Brook Farm by Madeline Richmond, a teacher in the Model Autism Program. She was thrilled with the administrative support and collegiality here, where she has been able to arrange weekly meetings to coordinate services among the various specialists who work with her students. Adaptive technology, off-site work opportunities, and extensive 1:1 attention are features of this model program, which was started in response to a single parent”s persistent advocacy for meeting her son”s special needs. What a testament to the power of working with families to get the resources ALL our children deserve!
Several other teachers volunteered to have me visit their classes as well. I watched a speech therapist interact with students who struggle with communicating basic greetings, a science teacher explaining the difference between physical and chemical reactions, and an ESL teacher whose students were completing a survey to determine left/right-brain dominance. I learn something new every time I visit a classroom! We get plenty of evaluative visits from administrators; here”s hoping you have opportunities to observe and learn from your colleagues as well.
Amika Kemmler-Ernst is a recently retired BPS New Teacher Developer with extensive experience as a classroom teacher, curriculum developer, and graphic artist. Her “We”re Learning Here” series features images of everyday learning in our public schools, along with the words of the students pictured. Please invite her to visit your school this year!