San Francisco Friends School is a creative, vibrant community set in the Mission district of San Francisco. I spent a wonderful Monday on March 14, 2011, visiting this school and observing classes. The school was originally a Levi Strauss factory and has been transformed into a beautiful space for learning. The staff and students are committed to supporting the Mission neighborhood through community service and learning projects.
There were many connections in the philosophy of learning between our two schools. A strong emphasis on literacy and employing strategies as one reads and writes. I observed students making connections, looking for the big idea, exploring the elements of story structure and questioning. Poetry was being read and written in many of the classrooms. Artistic, musical and dramatic expression is often connected to literacy. Students in the Lower School are helped with their print and cursive skills using the same method that we use- Handwriting Without Tears and the spelling program is also the same- The Sitton Spelling and Word Skills program. Fourth grade students cement their knowledge of cursive by publishing all of their writing using cursive. This is an idea that will be interesting to explore at our school- thinking about when publication of student writing using cursive is most effective. The Quaker testament of Simplicity is discussed and written about in all of the classrooms. I had the opportunity to read student journals that reflected an individual interpretation of how Simplicity can affect their lives.
Last year some of the teachers and administrators from San Francisco Friends visited Abington Friends and observed in our classrooms. I was able to see some of our philosophy reflected in their school. I am looking forward to sharing my reflections with teachers here and continuing this tradition of sharing great ideas that make us all more thoughtful and effective teachers.