Top 10 Take aways from the Lab School

My visit to the Lab School in December was eye opening.  I was energized, moved and motivated.  As soon as you walk in the door the art welcomes you and greets you with warmth.  Sculptures, paintings and installations fill the space and surround you as you walk through.  Rosa Parks was sitting right on a bench by the bus stop.  I was moved to witness a lively group focus on the movement of  pencil and compass form the flower motif in the Renaissance Room where they were learning how parts become whole and the intersection of lines create shapes.  I witnessed a student take his lesson with a group to a one on one session in math.  He was so excited perform the task of taking parts to become whole.  I was motivated by the simple language of how ‘parts become whole’ and how translatable the usage of this term could be in many art mediums.  My visit to the Lab school was truly an experience and completely confirmed the conversation we have been having at the Corcoran of how an ‘experience’ is much more valuable to building long lasting memory.  Until your visit here are the Top 10 Take-Aways:

1. Movements of the hand lead to the redesign of the brain’s circuitry.

2. The Arts promote questioning, form connections, sense of self-worth, basic skills and high-level thinking.

3. The Arts help measure the whole student and students learn best by doing.

4. Nurture the staff in the same manner wanted for the student. Everyone needs to form this habit from the top down. Administration to principals, principals to teachers, teachers to teachers and teachers to students.  Everyone in the practice of learning needs to know they are valued.

5. Breaking tasks down into manageable chunks for their Learning Adventure and Remediation Journey.

6. Students are grouped according to social and emotional maturity rather than by age or achievements.

7. Social Expectations are acted out.  To the tune of “This land is your land”~”This space is my space, this space is your space…”  They also act out these situations:  How do I get someones attention?  How do I interrupt? How do I join in a group of students already playing.

8. Academic clubs designed to lure the child and capture their imagination and enthusiasm.  Club identity is reinforced through a club code of behavior.

9. Staff members must feel comfort with technology.  They need to be given enough time to fiddle, apprentice with experts and take part in collaborative works that use technology.  It bridges the gap between literal & abstract, concrete & discovery, historical and current.

10. Visual arts provide planning, risk-taking, sharing, organizing, parts become whole. Dance, Drama and Animation organize body, includes research, layering of parts, channels human need to understand and communicate.

What I attempt to keep in my mind while teaching after visit to Lab School:

  • use behavior to prompt redirection~the repetitious energy of kindergarten boy prompted me to say “It is your mission to………..”  giving him a mission made use of Lab school suggestion of ‘manageable chunk
  • Find out how students are grouped by teachers to attend art. I do recall groupings based on reading levels and math skills, and now that I think about it there is a difference at times with particular projects.  I understand & can differentiate, but it sometimes rubs with the Reggio philosophy of how students can learn from each other.
  • Academic clubs were great for transition!  If entering the Renaissance room, students put on a red felt apprentice cap and shared password with instructor.  When entering the Industrialist & Expedition room, students pulled on a vest from the leather chairs.  This simple wardrobe channeled the students into settling in preparing for lesson.
  • Object based learningprovides collaborative teamwork among teachers and students.  The gorgeous thrones, temples and tools made from classic paper mache and lots of it.  They are creating, imagining, working with friends and busy!



Published by paigepb

Teaching studio art and online education. Embracing my new surroundings and exploring new challenges that develop my skills and pursue my interests. Thank you for stopping by artsaysthat!

One thought on “Top 10 Take aways from the Lab School

  1. Paige,

    Thanks for all this incredible reflection, shared with all. I’m so glad the Lab School visit prompted such great recognition of all they are doing – and how we might invest ourselves similarly. I too like the idea of academic clubs and would welcome some conversation about how we might accomplish!

    Thanks for such energy and vision! Love it!


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