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February 2013 - The Denver Waldorf School
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27 Feb Parent Study Invitation

Parent Study with Nancy Blanning Dates: Monday, January 21 Monday, February 18 Monday, March 11 Monday, April 22 Monday, May 20 Time: 7:00pm-8:30pm Where: 4th Grade Classroom of The Denver Waldorf School Our Parent Study Group is warmly open to all parents and friends in our community who would like to know more about Waldorf education and the ideas that stand behind it. We are beginning a study of "The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual Science" by Rudolf Steiner. This was the first lecture Rudolf Steiner gave in 1909 of the ideas that formed Waldorf education ten years later. All interested people are encouraged and welcomed to come. We read the lecture together and stop whenever there is interest to question and discuss. No previous familiarity with these ideas is presumed or required. Copies of the book are now available for purchase in the school store, located in the main entryway of the school, near the main office at 940 Fillmore Street. If you have any questions, please call Nancy Blanning at 303-777-0531 ext. 164...
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22 Feb Denver Waldorf School Alumni Panel ‘Excellent’

Denver Waldorf School Alumni Panel 'Excellent,' Says 7th Grade Parent By Andrew Clark, Denver Waldorf School Parent Parents and students were treated to an excellent discussion about the benefits of a Waldorf High School education from a panel of past and present Waldorf alumni. Panelists' ages ranged from early 40's to late teens. All either had professional careers or were college students. The overwhelming feedback from all was that Waldorf produces confident, creative thinkers, who share a strong compassion and sense of community for their fellow members of society. The audience participated with questions, ranging from, "How was the transition from Waldorf to college?" (not a problem) to "What would you change or improve about Waldorf?" (not a lot; maybe greater depth for physics, higher mathematics and modern languages) to "How culturally diverse is Waldorf?" (above average) to "What is Eurythmy?" (laughter, confusion and some reluctant affection). All students felt that their English writing skills and creative thought were significantly enhanced by the Waldorf education. As Waldorf lacks large classes and a comprehensive sports program, I was particularly interested and impressed to learn that many 8th grade students had chosen to stay at Waldorf for the exceptional personalization of their high school education, while still participating in large-school sports by joining area high school teams. One panel member had won a full tuition golf scholarship to Denver University after only four or five years of golf with the South High School team. Others told stories of joining the major sports teams at large high schools to enhance their broadest athletic and social endeavors. As these are obvious gaps at Waldorf, this was a great solution to two missing components. Judy Lucas, administrative director, and panel members tackled the comparison of Waldorf to public school teaching methods by showing that Waldorf students get almost personal attention in the small classes here, which pushes them to their academic limits in every subject, whereas the teachers of the larger classes in public schools tend to treat students as numbers being churned through a machine. One panel member's brother had returned to Waldorf after only a few weeks at a public school, due to his perception that the teaching was overwhelmingly poorer at public school. All panel members confirmed that their Waldorf academic abilities seemed to exceed those of their peers in the first years of college. Integration into a huge college was a breeze for these well-educated, outgoing and self-confident individuals. Having taught junior achievement for many years in Denver Public School, I can confirm that the typical public high school class is generally much larger and much less focused on academics or participation that the typical Waldorf class. Accountability is much lower amongst public school students than at Waldorf too. One panelist confessed to being able to skip classes unnoticed after he figured out he didn't have to work nearly as hard at a public school, and the teachers didn't miss him out of the much larger classes. It's impossible to skip a class at Waldorf because, said the panelists, Waldorf is like a family; it's hard to skip dinner and the chores without being noticed. We also learned that although Waldorf does not teach official AP programs as measured in public schools, the content of the curriculum at Waldorf easily matches or exceeds AP classes, and many colleges recognize and elevate Waldorf applicants for this. Judy Lucas is working towards a national recognition of the Waldorf high school syllabus as equal to AP in this arena. Panelists agreed that they were fulfilled in their lives due to the Waldorf education's ability to help them think creatively. Many had siblings or kids at Waldorf; some had spouses working at Waldorf. All had a great affection for their time at a Waldorf school. The issue of drug use in high school was discussed; one panelist said there was a very rare presence of drugs amongst DWS high schoolers during her time, in response to a direct question from a parent. Cultural diversity was discussed, and students remembered their international and continental field trips with delight. Europe and Alabama were mentioned, both of which gave students great insights into the workings of societies very different from Denver's. Judy Lucas commented that The Denver Waldorf School has a demographic almost identical to that of Denver, with the possible exception of less hispanics than the general population. As a parent of two girls at Waldorf, I was very comforted to learn about the socialization process that takes place in this smaller high school, where cliques aren't a problem and students care for each other as a community. The female panelists talked of not really dating until college. (as a protective father, I breathed a small sigh of relief). As always, I am comforted, amazed and enormously appreciative of the deeply attentive investment made by our incredible teachers in the lives of our children....
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22 Feb DWS Studies ‘Restorative Practices’ for Conflict Resolution

DWS Studies 'Restorative Practices' for Conflict Resolution A group of 20 teachers, staff and parents gathered for a day-long Saturday workshop to learn how to incorporate "restorative practices" at The Denver Waldorf School. "The use of restorative practices is a highly effective response to social conflict in schools," said Deb Witzel of the Longmont Community Justice Partnership, who led the workshop. Tougher than traditional discipline focused on punishment, expulsion or school-suspension, restorative practices, used around the world, can foster a school climate of respect, responsibility and healthy communication, Witzel said. In restorative practices, teachers, staff and students learn to resolve social conflict issues collaboratively, and students learn to take responsibility for their actions. The philosophy is based on the concept that people respond best when you do things with them and not to them or for them, Witzel said. These processes prevent the harm to the community caused by kicking children out of school, or permanently labeling children as "bullies" and "victims." People from every sphere of The Denver Waldorf School community came to the workshop on Saturday, January 19th, included representatives from the leadership team, the faculty, the college of teachers, the administration and parent council. Leigh Rhysling, Director of Enrollment at The Denver Waldorf School, coordinated the in-service day. Restorative actions give students responsibilities to heal the emotional impact on others who have been affected by social conflict, Witzel said. “In a restorative response to social conflict, children who have harmed others are held accountable by being directly confronted by the emotional harm they have caused," Witzel said. They are also required to play an active role in repairing the harm that has been done, she said. Using a tool called a "connection circle," the group learned that restorative practices are meant to empower those who have been harmed, by means of supported face-to-face meetings with those who have harmed them. The connection circle also includes everyone who has been affected by an incident. Key to the success of the connection circle, is everyone speaking their truth with "I" statements, listening with an open heart, and keeping confidential what is disclosed in the circle. A special speaking "stick" or object, allows the person holding the object the space to speak their truth, without interruption. The object is passed around the circle so that every voice is heard. Witzel told the group an inspiring story of how restorative practices can lead to community healing. The father of a boy who was seriously injured by another boy met with the so-called "bully" and his mother. Initially intent on punishment and restitution, through the connection circle, the father learned that the boy had been struggling without a father present in his home, that his mother worked many jobs, and that he was left to watch wrestling for hours alone. When he tried a wrestling move on the playground, he broke the neck of his classmate. The father of the injured boy volunteered to direct the other boy's energy on his football team. Witzel said Waldorf schools, which put an emphasis on acknowledging the inherent worth of every child, tend to grasp the healing powers of the connection circle faster than other schools. The goal is to have these healthy communications tools in place well before any incident rises to the level of "bullying." The 5 R's of Restorative Practices Beverly B. Title, Ph.D. - Longmont Community Justice Partnership Respect Respect is the key ingredient that holds the container for all Restorative Practices, and it is what keeps the process safe. Responsibility For Restorative Practices to be effective, personal responsibility must be taken. Everyone needs to accept responsibility for his or her own behavior and this begins with the offender. Repair The restorative approach is to repair the harm that was done to the fullest extent possible, recognizing that harm may extend beyond anyone's capacity for repair. It is through taking responsibility for one's own behavior and making repair that persons may regain or strengthen their self-respect. Relationship Relationships may be mended through the willingness to be accountable for one's actions and to make repair of harms done. Restorative practices recognize that when a harm occurs, individuals and communities have been violated. Reintegration For the restorative process to be complete, the offender and any others who may have felt alienated, must be accepted back into the community. This reintegration process is the final step in achieving wholeness. For more information, please click here. ...
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22 Feb ‘The Wonder of Boys’

"The Wonder of Boys" Evening with Nancy Blanning Monday, March 4, 2013 6:00pm-8:00pm Children like to move, but boys need to move. Boys are physically, neurologically, and socially different from girls. A male incarnation is strongly connected to the physical body and it is through his body that a boy meets with the world and explores its possibilities. We will discuss how to facilitate socially and pedagogically inspiring ways to work with energetic boys. It is our task as teachers and parents of all age children to learn how to work with this energy rather than against it. Movement and practical work are two vast resources available to us. When we effectively meet their needs we will be better able to perceive the wonder of their being. Nancy Blanning has been a Waldorf educator for 30 years, emphasizing therapeutic and developmental support for young children. She serves on the WECAN board and is the editor of Gateways. She has co-authored Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures, a therapeutic movement resource books for teachers. She travels widely as lecturer, teacher trainer, mentor, and developmental consultant. The evening lecture will be at The Denver Waldorf School at 940 Fillmore Street. ...
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18 Feb DWS on Colorado Public Radio

Denver Waldorf 4th Graders on Colorado Public Radio FEBRUARY 9, 2013 Click on this link below to hear the Colorado Public Radio report featuring The Denver Waldorf School that aired on Friday, February 8, 2013. Mr. Todd Matuszewicz and his 4th Grade students were interviewed by CPR education reporter Jenny Brundin about their “media fast” experience. Click on this link to listen to the audio. Colorado Public Radio Transcript: Waldorf’s 4th Graders Gain Insight From Media Fast by Jenny Brundin, Colorado Public Radio The Denver Waldorf School’s 4th grade class participated in a media fast for two weeks and is now on a “media diet.” Schools across the country are wiring up, plugging students as young as three into the latest digital technology. But not so fast say educators at Waldorf schools. The Waldorf model avoids technology in the classroom before high school. But some students are still getting a steady diet of screen time at home. One classroom at Denver’s Waldorf School decided to put themselves on a media fast outside of school. Here is a transcript of CPR’s education reporter Jenny Brundin reports. Reporter Jenny Brundin: Every morning Todd Matuszewicz watches his 4th grade class file into Room 4. He pays close attention to the ebbs and flows of their energy, their moods. Todd Matuszewicz: Monday mornings were always the hardest. Reporter: The kids would bounce into the classroom. Matuszewicz: ..and they would be really wired. There was kind of a heightened state of anxiety in the classroom. And then here was lots of talk about what they had seen. Reporter : …TV shows, commercials. Matuszewicz: And then the week would mellow out, like Thursday and Friday, I’d go ‘Oh there we are!’ and then Monday it would get ramped up again. Reporter : One Monday morning, the boys were particularly amped up imitating moves from a Fox TV commercial advertising a bare knuckles fight. It was… (TV ambience) Matuszewicz: The straw that broke the camel’s back. Reporter: He’s not anti-boxing. It’s just that the graphic and at times bloody style of fighting was not appropriate for 4th graders. The school had just had a visit from a scholar who challenged them to unplug from all media for a period of time. See what happens. Does it sharpen the senses? Bring families closer? So Matuszewicz consulted with parents and then broached the idea of a 2-week fast with students. Aiden Rhysling’s first reaction? Aiden Rhysling: Oh no! Reporter: He and his buddies knew their teacher was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Matuszewicz: So the Steelers had gotten eliminated from the playoffs and they said, ‘You’re doing this to punish us because the Steelers are out of the playoffs!” – that was the first thing that came out of their mouths. (laugh) Reporter: Football, as it turns out, was a major issue during the fast. The big Broncos game, you know, the one everyone wants to forget, was coming up. Charley Morris: I was like ‘Oh my gosh, we’re not going to be able to watch this game!’ Reporter: Charley Morris’ family broke down, called Mr. Matuszewicz, and confessed they had to watch the game. But other than the big game, families gave up televisions, iPads, videogames, cell phones, music and even radio in the car for 2 weeks. It was a challenge says Sierra MacMillan. MacMillan: But then it’s kind of fun because you have to find something else to do Reporter: And that is a central question in Waldorf philosophy, says enrollment director Leigh Rhysling: Leigh Rhysling: What aren’t the children doing when they’re in front of a screen? Reporter: According to Waldorf founder Rudolf Steiner, children think by creating mental pictures. If those pictures are supplied ready-made – there’s less opportunity to build the “imaginative muscle.” It’s based on this simple belief: technology is a tool. Introduced too early, it becomes a crutch, an addictive one at that. You would only introduce a hammer to a child when he has mastered the skill to hit something accurately. In the century-old Waldorf model, children focus on developing the neural networks needed for higher learning – and that means movement – skipping, running, jumping, balancing – making their own content instead of absorbing content created by others, on a screen. It is creative hands-on projects and play –and no computers in the classrooms until high school. 4th grade teacher Todd Matuszewicz: Matuszewicz: We’re not anti-technology, we’re not anti-computers. We actually celebrate the tool. But it’s important that you have skills that enable you to use that tool. Master the tool, not let the tool master you. Reporter: The media fast at home, while challenging, led to lots of reflection. One family noticed they slept better. They definitely spent more time together. Teacher Todd Matuszewicz held daily “what are you doing instead of media” chats with his students. Student speaking in class: We’ve been playing a lot of board games in the mountains and I’ve been reading a lot. I just started a book and I just finished it. Reporter: Fourth grader Sabine Keppeler had an insight about how addictive TV is. Sabine Keppeler: Well it’s made me realize is, I wish the media was never invented. I don’t mean all the lights and stuff. I mean TVs – they’re like magic. They keep you staring at them for like 10 minutes and then when it’s time to leave, you’re like, no I want to see this just until the end of this episode and then you watch another and another. (sound of classroom) Reporter: It’s on Wednesday of the second week of the fast when Matuszewicz finally notices a difference in class. Matuszewicz: Today as they were having snack, the conversation stayed really calm, there was not a lot of volatility, and so I would say today is the first day when I can say, I can see a new calmness to them as a whole. Reporter: Matuszewicz asks the students how they’ll end the fast. It appears, the kids are ready. Aiden Rhysling says he’ll “chuck his school bag against the wall,…” Rhysling: sit down on the couch put in the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy and watch it! Reporter: The class is open to another fast in the spring. Matuszewicz: They’ll be no play-off games to miss so we’ll be OK there….maybe a little bit longer?…maybe 3 weeks? Class: No! Reporter: A few weeks later, though, as a class, the Denver Waldorf School’s fourth graders agree to try to stay away from screens from Sunday afternoons until Fridays after school. Call it a screen diet. [Photos: Bruce Kelley/ The Denver Waldorf School] ...
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