december monthly messenger
Hello RTS Families,
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Some may argue that New Year's Day is just another day.
But the excitable optimist will counter argue; stating that no day above ground is ordinary.
I delight in the tradition of collectively celebrating the beginning of a new year. I see this as an opportunity both to commemorate what we've experienced and to then use what we've learned to set intentions for the months ahead.
Entering this new decade we find ourselves here, on a great precipice of infinite and unknown possibilities. And I think that one of the many challenges of being conscious humans is that we are constantly dancing between the tendency to have expectations for what is to come while living with the humility that we do not get to choose the outcomes.
So as we step into 2020 I will invite each of us to set intentions for how we want to be this year and trust that whatever comes up will bring with it opportunity for learning and expansion...
In this messenger you will find calendar items for January, reflections and photographs from December, and a link to an episode of the On Being Podcast that will serve as a jumping off point to the upcoming parent group discussion.
Be Well and Stay Curious
With love from the RTS Staff
Looking Towards January
Saturday January 11th: 10am-12pm Parent Discussion Group hosted by Chrissy
During this discussion group we will listen to an excerpt from an episode of the On Being Podcast featuring the voices of Abraham Verghese and Denise Pope. How Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? onbeing.org/programs/abraham-verghese-and-denise-pope-how-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up/
We will use this conversation as a jumping-off point for a dialogue exploring definitions of success. We will also wonder together about Self-Directed Learning communities and social change.
Wednesday January 15th: 9:30am-10:30am Parent Discussion Group with Carol Castanon
Monday January 20th: RTS closed for MLK Day
Wednesday January 29th: 12pm Dismissal, Staff In-Service
Reflections on December:
December was a joy filled month at RTS.
For starters twelve baby goats were born throughout the first week of December. All month learners enjoy the special opportunity to head up to the Little Farm to pet, and hold the goat babies. In fact, one kid, rejected by it's mama, took up daily residency on the RTS campus and was able to romp around and be cared for by Rock Tree Sky kiddos throughout it's first weeks of life.
Another sweet occurrence that happened this month was that a great quantity of honey was available to be harvested from our beehive. With Jim's guidance learners were able to get suited up and learn the mindful process of collecting honey comb.
Many learners busied themselves this month with making holiday gifts for loved ones as well as preparing for the Winter Exposition. At times the art room felt like a workshop with children scrambling around putting finishing touches on the holiday village and sewing scrunchies to sell at the Winter Expo. Several learners devoted time to practicing musical performances. Others focused on creating pieces to be displayed in a gallery style.
Coming together as a community for the Winter Exposition is a tradition that generate love in the Rock Tree Sky family. For those who attended it was an evening of celebrating not only what our children have learned and created and the ways that they've grown, but celebrating that we all get to partake in this creative growth in support of each other. For that we are grateful and looking forward to what 2020 has in store for Rock Tree Sky.
November monthly messenger
Dear RTS Families,
December is officially upon us. And while culturally, this time of year can be full of holiday chaos- I would like to challenge each of us to step out of that chaos and to instead enjoy this month as a time for slowing down and reflecting.
As we move through this final month of 2019, the final month of this decade, we ought to give consideration and celebration to all that we have learned, the ways that we have evolved and grown, the creations we have made. And then as the New Year rolls around we can set fresh intentions for the decade to come.
In this letter you will find calendar updates for December,
reflections and photographs from November, and an excerpt from The Teenage Liberation Handbook.
Be Well and Stay Curious,
With love from the RTS Staff
Looking Towards December:
Wednesday December 4th: 9:30-10:30 am Parent Education with Carol Castanon
Saturday December 14th: 10:30-12 pm Parent Discussion Group, potluck lunch to follow
This month's discussion group will be hosted by Jim Bailey
"Curiosity, Engagement, and a Lifetime of Learning: Our discussion will explore recent research in curiosity and engagement and how they affect attitudes toward learning and long-term recall and memory. Families are invited to share strategies and experiences related to supporting children's inherent curiosity and consider the value of intrinsic engagement in the learning environment versus extrinsic motivations."
Wednesday December 18th: 12pm dismissal, Staff In-Service
Thursday December 19th: 5:00- 7pm Winter Exposition and Potluck
Monday December 23rd- Friday January 3rd: RTS Closed for Winter Break
Reflections on November:
November at Rock Tree Sky felt fun and creative as ever.
As I reflect on the activity from the past month I cannot help but feel inspired and amazed by all that can happen in such concentrated expanses of time.
Thus is the magic of childhood.
The design room saw quite a bit of action this month. For starters,
during the first week of November, Chrissy, with the creative support of several learners created a Birthday Calendar in the design room. The intention of this calendar will be to hold the community accountable for celebrating each other's birthdays with well wishes and the RTS Happy Birthday Song.
Also during that first week, Jim generated excitement in the space by conducting a cornstarch fireball demonstration.
A new offering for an ongoing Dungeons and Dragons type fantasy game called the Isles of Mist also drew the interest and engagement of several learners.
This month the Art Room transformed from a spooky craft zone to a cheerful workshop in which learners have been creating holiday gifts for loved ones and collaborating on the construction of a frosty winter village.
During the week leading up to Thanksgiving Break, learners from Chrissy and Natasha's band enjoyed listening to the classic story, Stone Soup, and shared in the labor of chopping vegetables to make stone soup to share with the community.
Family conferences also took place during that final week of togetherness in November. During this week many families took the opportunity to meet with the mentors and come together to reflect on the social and emotional development of learners, in the context of friendships, engagement with offerings and creative projects at Rock Tree Sky. These conversations also lent themselves as opportunities to share ideas about any goals that learners and families may have for the upcoming months.
What was perhaps the most important and potent aspect of these meetings was the mutual exchange of gratitude between families and mentors.
As a mentor present in many of these conversations, I will share that taking the time to reflect on the educational journeys of the learners felt supportive of their experiences as members of the RTS community. Reflecting together allows us to better understand each other and in turn allows us to better care for one another. And then what emerged as perhaps the most potent aspect of these meetings with families was the mutual exchanges of gratitude between mentors and families.
Parent Education: Self-Reflections and Aspirations in the context of The Glorious Generalist
This month, I have found myself reflecting on my own maturation throughout this past decade.
For me, the past ten years have been filled with intense growing experiences. For the first three years of the decade I was an anxiety ridden high schooler at a Catholic school in Massachusetts. During the next four years I legally became an "adult," attended and graduated from a four-year University, and I discovered the world of Self-Directed Education. I then spent one year traveling independently, exploring the country with the intention to discover a place where I could live with both a sense of purpose and have my well-being supported. The next year offered me my first real position in my career as a mentor here at RTS. I settled into Ojai (a town 2,560 miles south-west from my hometown). And during these final two years of this decade I have found myself truly loving my work, my community, and the life that I am living.
In support of my own self-reflecting at this time, I revisited my copy of Grace Llewellyn's, The Teenage Liberation Handbook. I found the chapter titled "The Glorious Generalist" to be particularly resonate in that it describes (and glorifies) the sort of person that I have come to realize that I am.
As Llewllen describes them, a glorious generalist is someone who sees the world whole, someone who understands him/herself, and someone who understands their connection to the universe.
When I consider my own self I recognize that I am not an expert at any one thing, I am not someone obsessed with climbing any ladders (literal of figurative), and I am not someone who follows the path of the masses.
What I am is a student of the world. As a mentor to home/unschoolers, I see myself as a glorious generalist (or at least I aspire to be one).
To understand a more of what I mean, please read the following excerpt from "The Glorious Generalist" chapter: