A Semester at Spire School
Here at Spire School, we have been so busy running, climbing, digging and playing, that it seems like the first signs of Spring have crept up on us! As the end of the school year comes closer, we have been reflecting on all of the growth that we have seen in our amazing tiny human friends, and we would love to share some highlights from the beginning of our year with you!
For the majority of our youngest friends, we as teachers had that pleasure and privilege of being a part their first school experiences. It was so special to get to watch our 2-3 year olds start to build friendships and learn the routine of our days together. Using tools like pictures of our schedule, song transitions, and having predictability in our days, these young friends began to feel comfortable in our school routine.
Once trust and familiarity with our routine and community was established, the doors for creativity, imagination, and exploration were open to us! In October, our youngest friends who come to Spire School on Tuesday and Thursday mornings played their first game! Teacher Kelly Documented:
“Well come on, I’ll help ya. Okay, Where is the ouchie?”
“You’re a doctor?”
“Yeah I am!”
“They had started a game, of their own volition and interest, for the first time! All the children quickly gathered to play Doctor, a perennial favorite and universal experience that all children can connect to. Some children healed owies, some made banana medicine, and others described an owie, then switched roles to see how the other job might feel. I stood back and watched as everyone smiled, knowing th
at they were all in agreement and playing a game together.”
With the end of Autumn came another first for our young friends… their first rainy day! Luckily, we had a few practice rainy days before November’s storms came where we were able to set up the tarp and move through the day in the way we would if it were raining. The children got to experience the joy of splashing in smaller puddles so that when the rain came, they were ready! It was a blast to see them adapt to and thrive in this new environment.
This year, our Older Group is almost entirely made up of returning Spire School YGs! It was so exciting to see them return to school ready to greet their their forest classroom and old friends, and to take on some new challenges.
During the first semester, our OG friends were showing us that they had become experts at our daily routine, so we knew it was time to give them more responsibility, and so we introduced community jobs! Every friend gets a job that they’re responsible
for for two weeks in a row (Coyote howler, song counter, tarp helper, waste manager, towel helper, name clue, weather reporter, hand-washing line maker, soap helper, meeting manager). The group had been so excited and eager to help out and learn a new skill, that by the end of the second week, they had already mastered their jobs! Because everyone has a job that helps out, the children are making strong connections to our community and establishing a sense of place and belonging in our outdoor classroom. The jobs create an opportunity for children to take ownership and responsibility over the routines and structure of our day.
Our Older Group has also been taking on more responsibility for tools and safety. In October, teachers introduced the concept of a “blood circle” to the class. A blood circle is a way of keeping yourself and others safe while using a sharp tool. To make it, one creates a circle with leaves or sticks that is wider than their own wingspan. To safely use a sharp tool, the friend sits up straight on their knees and focuses on keeping their body and their friends safe. This introduction of the blood circle has allowed new tools to enter our classroom, posing fun and exciting challenges for the group.
For our TK friends, this year has been one of many adventures! Their home-base drop-off location started out at the Spire in the Presidio like all of our other groups, but by the end of the first semester, they had journeyed out to Golden Gate Park and beyond! TK is our most “nomadic” class, where they have different meeting places throughout San Francisco during the year that they spend a few weeks at a time getting to know as well as going on a field trip about once every week.
The tradition of “Field Trip Fridays” started early in the year for TK, when in October they went on the PresidiGo Shuttle for the first time as a group to visit the Presidio Archaeology Field Station and Laboratory. There we met real life working archaeologists and had the opportunity to share stories about digging and finding our very own forest treasures in the Presidio. Students even got to see just how similar their school digging tools were to the field station tools, which was very inspiring.
This weekly routine has helped to create a predictable rhythm and has also bolstered student’s sense of adventure. Teacher Darin Observed, “During our daily closing circle, many students have been reflecting and sharing that their favorite part of their day has been riding the PresidiGo. This special bus ride is a great time for us to look out the window and share about what we notice out on the landscape. It has also provided us a unique opportunity to practice recognizing some familiar areas of the the forest from a new perspective! Waiting for the bus has helped us gain skills in sticking together as a team, taking turns sharing ideas, and practicing patience.”
Like our Older Group, TK has also taken on additional community responsibility this year. As well as having rotating community jobs, TK teachers introduced the idea of "shared snack" in the
beginning of the year. For shared snack, each week a family is responsible for bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to school, and two to three friends carefully cut it up and arrange it before morning snack. Friends have learned important knife safety and skills, and get to be proud of their contribution to the community's gathering.
It has been a year of beautiful growth, discovery and change at Spire School. Even between the first semester and now (the middle of March), our community has grown in so many wonderful ways. We can’t wait to share an update with you again at the end of the year.