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Appreciation of cross-grade learning

Yesterday a number of parents provided the faculty and staff with a spectacular lunch. It was the annual Teacher Appreciation Lunch, when everyone who works at ISTP is treated royally, fed a gourmet meal, and truly feels appreciated. So a huge thank you to all of the parents who make it happen. But there is something else that happens during the luncheon. Middle school students lead elementary school classes in activities, games and stories, have lunch and recess together, and – best of all – mentor and become friends with the younger students.

7th and 8th graders led 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders in making cards for their teachers, taught them new games, and read them stories they had chosen from the library. At first, some middle schoolers seemed a little overwhelmed by classroom management, but after a bit, the classes hummed along happily and productively. Of course there were a couple of rooms that were, shall we say, more energetic than others, but I was impressed by the overall atmosphere. Even students who might not jump out as being natural leaders were successful and loved mentors for the elementary students – they rose to the challenge and enjoyed it along the way. The middle schoolers also gained a little appreciation for their teachers as they saw that it is not always easy to get everyone listening at the same time or doing exactly as the directions say.

Most of all, I was deeply impressed by the bonds that were formed in a few short hours. Elementary school students were thrilled to have this time with the middle schoolers, and the afternoon ended with hugs, smiles, and admiring looks. The elementary students loved hearing the middle school students speak in French and Chinese, found common bonds (Skylar and Skylar became fast friends), and listened raptly to the middle schoolers as they read stories aloud or explained how the game of limbo works.

It was a wonderful afternoon of fun, but also a different kind of learning. Our students learned from each other, young and old, and learned about themselves in the process. And everyone appreciated their teachers just that much more!

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