FROM THE YELLIN CENTER NEWSLETTER - FALL 2015
Transformational Change: Rocky Mountain Learning
By Paul B. Yellin, MD
As our team entered the first grade classroom, the desks were arranged in a small rectangle in one corner of the classroom, with the teacher on the inside facing out, and the children sitting around the perimeter. All were reading, except for one restless little boy. He looked around, fidgeted in his seat, drummed with his fingers. The teacher calmly told him that it was time to read. He seemed to ignore her. She calmly repeated herself and then focused elsewhere. The boy half-dropped, half-fell to the floor and rolled onto his back. She continued to focus on the other children. She didn’t acknowledge what others might view as defiance. But she knew him and he knew her. Their mutual connection and trust was such that her disengagement was more effective than any rebuke.
Within minutes something magical transpired. The boy gradually climbed back into his chair. The teacher said, “Would you like to sit next to me?” The boy nodded and the teacher lifted his chair so he could sit with her on the inside of the rectangle. She began gently rubbing his back as he quietly picked up a book and began to read.
The Transformational Learning Collaborative team was in Denver, Colorado, visiting DCIS at Fairmont. The team at DCIS at Fairmont describes their school as “a learning community rooted in core values that lay the groundwork for success and reflect wide-ranging perspectives.” Their commitment to Respect, Perseverance, Joy, and Integrity was palpable as we wandered the halls, entered classrooms, and interacted with members of their team. I urge everyone to visit their website and learn more about this wonderful school which already embodies so many of the principles of the Transformational Change Model.
This was not my first school visit in connection with my work with the QED Foundation, which I described in a post in The Yellin Center blog this past summer when our group visited the Making Community Connections Charter School (MC2). Next up, the team comes to New York in November to visit some schools closer to The Yellin Center’s home. I’ll keep you posted.