Notes from the Principal's Desk: October 10, 2017

Often times in these communications I have talked about the 4 primary skills of 21st Century Learning: creativity, communication, collaboration and problem solving. Today I would like to discuss how we foster creativity in Kindergarten through 8th grade at Cathedral.

I believe we picture creativity as that flash of brilliance or magic moment that taps into an undiscovered part of our imagination to solve a problem or develop a new idea. Graham Wallace in his book, The Art of Thought, breaks down creativity into four stages:  preparation, incubation, illumination and verification. I see all of these stages reflected in all of the grades and classrooms while I conduct informal and formal observations throughout the year.

In the preparation stage, teachers help students understand the background material which will form the basis of a student's new idea. This provides the framework and knowledge for the students to use as a guide to help them as they begin to problem solve.

During the incubation stage, teachers encourage students to take a break if they hit a wall in their thought process during a project. Teachers might encourage a student to take a break and work on a different activity or task before confronting the problem they are trying to solve. In addition, teachers may also ask guiding "What if..." questions to help students look from a different perspective. This allows students to let ideas mix and "marinate," which is so important when cultivating new thought patterns.

The illumination stage is the most fun for a teacher to witness. This is when the light bulb goes off in a student's brain. This eureka moment brings a spark to the child's eyes. It is right then that we know we have captured a student's imagination.

However, the creative process does not end there. The idea must be tested and refined during the verification stage, to prove that the idea can stand up to scrutiny.

The ability to balance directions and guidelines, or choice and structure, in the classroom is what makes Cathedral teachers so special. Faculty in grades K-2 will use structure and choice differently than faculty in grades 3-8. In the end, the teachers act as both an authority on content as well as a guide on the side as the students travel on their educational voyage.

We hope this Wednesday you and your family will be able to join us for STREAM Night from 6pm to 7:30pm, so you can see that sparkle in a child's eye when they make a new connection or discover something they did not know before. It is truly a great opportunity to see your son's or daughter's creative minds at work.

Finally, I would like to thank all of the faculty, staff and parent volunteers who worked so hard the past few weeks to make today's Open House such a huge success. It is a wonderful opportunity to share the great things we do here at Cathedral, and I am grateful to be part of such an involved and caring community.

God Bless,

Michael Wright