Different Kinds of Intelligence

I had the good fortune of watching an amazing performance by our 4th graders today as they acted out the Roald Dahl classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Wow! Can these kids act. Not only did they have all their lines memorized, they delivered them with emotion, comedic timing and with high level of entertainment. I was thinking to myself as they were performing, “they got it”. The “It” factor being their emotional intelligence. The ability to understand their environment and deliver a tremendous product to the audience.

There are so many great examples I saw that highlighted kids who were in touch with their emotions, confident in their ability and comfortable in their environment. One boy kept loosing his fake mustache and used it as an opportunity to get a laugh out of the crowd (I would have run out of the room crying). One girl stomped here feet and delivered a Veruca Salt that would put the movie character to shame. Another boy moved as if he could have been an Oompa Loompa (I was scared of them as a kid). These kids are smart. It may be a different kind of “smart” but they have “it”.

I walked by their classroom later in the day, after they had come down off the sugar high (they had awesome “Wonka” snacks after the play). They were in class taking a practice ERB standardized test. Not the most fun or stimulating exercise (but practicing for the test is never a bad idea). I thought to myself as I walked by, “I already know they are smart”. Emotional intelligence may not have a good standardized test counterpart for measurement, but, what I saw today “on the stage” is proof that our kids know how to relate to others and an audience. Kudos to their teachers who coached them up as well. Great work 4th Grade!

On a side note, I recently read a great piece in the New York Times on the benefits of bilingualism and Why Bilinguals are Smarter. It is a great article. Read it if you have some time. It just reinforces the significance of learning a second language. The ripple effect is pretty telling from the data that they present, especially on the brain.

One of the components that stood out to me in the article was the impact bilingualism has as it relates to a person’s “heightened ability to monitor environment.” Being more aware of your surroundings is important as it not only makes us more in touch with our surroundings, it also makes our connection with other cultures more significant and meaningful. The cultural intelligence of our kids only gets stronger with daily language instruction.

As a school, nurturing that EQ (emotional intelligence) and CQ (cultural intelligence) is so important. It was great to see the EQ today as the kids performed and then see this article and reflect on how we foster CQ in our kids through our language program. There may not be a true “test” for either of these two intelligences but our kids have “it”.

My Head Hurts- In a Good Way

You have to love technology. I am 30,000 feet above Minnesota right now and I am looking over all my notes after having just attended the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) annual conference in Seattle. From listening to Bill Gates, to meeting my New Head’s colleagues, to seeing old friends and to sessions on strategic planning, internet safety and schools of the future (to name a few) my head hurts- in a good way.

There are so many great “takeaways” from the conference. Here are a few below:

*Curriculum mapping of our subject content is important (and we do that), however, a curriculum map that emphasizes 21st century skills is one that will produce even stronger students. Time to get on that.

* It is time to market outcomes. Let’s create a profile of a Woods graduate. How about this for outcomes this year, 100% of 8th graders got into the school of their choice. Over 50% have been awarded scholarships or honors distinction upon acceptance. Impressive.

* Use technology for personalization in education. This pearl came from Bill Gates. To quote Mr. Gates, “knowledge is there for content..that problem was solved with the text book….the teacher plays a vital role in the assessment and customization of learning. Technology is a promising tool to make knowledge relevant…technology allows for instant feedback.”

* Teams are essential in schools. From collaborative learning by kids, sports and robotics teams to faculty led teams like the differentiated instruction team, the tech team or the faith in action service team. Imagine all these teams working across grade levels to infuse faith, service, instructional methodology and technology into the classroom and as professional development for the staff.

The other piece that we all took away from Bill Gates, who only graduated from high school (I am not recommending that path), was that the folks at Lakeside School in Seattle “got out of his way and let him explore his passion.” Gates designed the first class scheduling program for the school at the age of 16. He found his passion and they let him do “his thing”. The tag line, One Woods, Endless Possibilities seems quite appropriate. Just ask Adeeb Mahmood, class of 2002, why he is in the tech field today. As he told me at lunch one day, he was able to get on one of the first internet ready computers at The Woods and his passion was fired up then.

It is a good time to be working on our strategic plan at The Woods.

Enjoy the video below. It is a story board of speeches given by Pat Basset, President of NAIS, and Bill Gates.