Four Things I Learned as Guest Moderator in My Son's Class

By Tom Baxter, Inly Parent

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At the 2009 Inly Auction, I “won” the chance to be Moderator-for-the-Day in LE3. Last Thursday, I finally got the chance to fulfill my dream.

With Lower Elementary play rehearsal in full swing, Moderator duties were shifted to the afternoon, and my first official duty was to lead Pattyann and Caren’s class out to midday recess. Had I known I’d be conscripted by my sons to tend goal in their pick-up soccer game, I would have worn different shoes. And those puffy goalkeeper gloves with the padding in them.

Lesson #1: There is no passive participation at an Inly gathering.

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Back inside, while the rest of the class was “settling in,” Jed, my son and mentor for the afternoon, handed me a clipboard and a pencil and we got to work. We had big responsibilities: there were calendars to update, attendance to take, problems to solve, songs to choose. It was only after Jed and I had ticked off a few items that I looked up and realized that for the the rest of the class, “settling in” didn’t mean rehashing recess stories or chatting about the weather. They had all pulled out their materials and…wait for it…started doing schoolwork! Independently! Without being told! Some while sitting on the floor! Others while sitting at desks the size of those miniature tables they put inside take-out pizza boxes to keep the cheese from sticking to the top of the box!

Lesson #2: Institute “settling in” time at the office from 9:00 to 9:30 every day.

Lesson #2a: Remove the conference tables and ergonomic adjustable chairs from all meeting rooms at the office. Replace with woven mats.

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Next Jed took me around to check in with the teachers and the various committee members. In 15 minutes I engaged more with teachers and students in a classroom setting than I did in four years of college. Plus I fed mealworms to a reptile. (Note: I did have some experience with reptiles in college. And mealworms, too, for that matter. But those are stories for another time.)

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We returned to the meeting area and not only updated the classroom calendar but completed a detailed analysis of the date and the number of school days completed. To my great relief, Jed helped me with the math.

Lesson #3: There are important learning opportunities even in routine everyday tasks.

Many thanks to Caren and Pattyann and all of LE3 for allowing me to cash in my prize and moderate for a couple hours. And special thanks to Jed for showing me the ropes!

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