From a student’s earliest days, teachers structure their classrooms and develop activities that support social emotional growth. Engaging students in the act of developing classroom rules, guiding self-discovery, providing academic choice, practicing mindfulness, and encouraging collaborative problem-solving are important ties between the academic and social emotional realms of children’s worlds at Milton.
Recently, Grade 4 students ventured to the White Mountains for a three-day trip to the Appalachian Mountain Club. The focus of the trip was to integrate students new to the class, to build a strong and supportive community, and to begin to develop the students as leaders. Leaving campus, nervous energy filled the bus as students bid farewell to their parents. For some, this was a first trip away from home. As they crossed the border into New Hampshire, the colorful Fall leaves and the crests of the mountains captured their attention and the mood of the bus shifted. Once in the White Mountains, the students partook in a variety of outdoor activities. Art teacher Sandy Butler particularly “loved to see the kids try new things, both on and off the trail….They learned about the flora and fauna in the White Mountains, and more about each other through group games, activities and ice-breakers. I appreciated how much they cared about and took care of one another. It was a very enriching experience for all.”
Among the most challenging activities was a day-long hike, that required the students to care for one another in ways that they’d never done. “I was amazed at how students encouraged one another and never complained! Each of the students took turns being a leader…being responsible for making sure we were walking at the pace of everyone in the group, and deciding when the group needed a break or snack” shared Grade 4–8 Learning Specialist, Liz West. Trips like the one to AMC, push students to try things that they may not have ever done before. For Lower School Counselor Sarah Spinello it was “inspiring to see so many of the students step outside of their comfort zones to try something new. They encouraged each other to feel safe and supported…and when the terrain got tough, they held each other up and smiled while munching on their trail mix and challenging each other with riddles and guessing games.” On the ride home, students reflected on the fears that they conquered and giggled about newfound friendships and experiences that they had together. Asked what they thought of their adventure, students replied that the best thing about the AMC trip…”climbing to the top of Mount Avalon! The view was beautiful!” The worst thing…”that we only stayed for three days!”