Redefining Ready

by Sara Wayne, Assistant Head of School

I have been asking myself what it means to be “ready for school”. I think about it both as a school administrator and also as a parent of two high school students.

At Friends School of Minnesota, we intentionally do not measure school readiness in ways that other schools measure it. A set of skills that are assessed outside of any context (counting to 20, writing their first name, etc.,) doesn’t measure readiness. We don’t look at students through a narrow lens of measurement. 

Being “ready,” at its most basic level, can mean tactical things have been achieved or that a list has been completed. Things like purchasing school supplies or having sneakers ready for P.E. class. During the summer months and again during pre-service week, we prepared ourselves for school to start by reviewing policies and procedures and getting our classrooms ready. Indeed we have systems in place and good policies to reflect best practices as a school. We are ready. 

What matters most in my mind, more than all of the completed checklists, is how we engage with one another in relationship, in conversation and curiosity. 

As a progressive educator, I strive to keep the child’s voice at the center of all we do. Being ready for growth in community means building something together, creating space for multiple perspectives, and listening deeply with the hope of gaining a better understanding of one another. This is the essence of what our teachers hold close to their hearts every day.

Being fully present and engaged in the process of learning and growing is what keeps me excited to come to work every day. It brings me great joy to continuously affirm that learning is life rather than preparation for life. Our hallways and classrooms are alive with this joy every day. We collectively feel that joy when we are at school. It was palpable at meeting for worship on Tuesday morning.

How do we move past the checklist and think more deeply about our relationships?  How do we engage together as a community of learners knowing it is a journey that requires us to explore topics that might make us feel uncomfortable? Are we willing to explore new truths and prioritize our relationships over all else in the quest for centering us in our mission? Are we keeping our children’s voices at the center?

I am ready to listen to our children, learn from one another and continually seek new truths together as we grow in community. Join me in being “ready” in the year ahead. The kind of ready that moves beyond the checklist, the kind grounded in being together.

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Our mission is to prepare children to embrace life, learning, and community with hope, skill, understanding and creativity. We are committed to the Quaker values of peace, justice, simplicity and integrity.

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