Once You Get to Know Them

April 16, 2013 by Bill Ivey

It was Monday, April 15, 2013. Tax Day. Patriot's Day. And a normal school day at Stoneleigh-Burnham. During Morning Announcements in my Humanities 7 class, the notion came up that Patriots' Day was a day off for most residents of Massachusetts and Maine and, after some good-natured grumbling, the students got down to work. Out of a class of 10, seven students wanted to read from their independent writing, and the entire class listened carefully and patiently to over an hour's worth of readings, bringing insight and empathy to their comments and suggestions. The rest of the period continued in the same vein, and later on my French 2 students would be similarly willing to work to understand at a deep level how you distinguish when to use the imparfait and when to use the passé composé instead.

Following this class, I went to Reception to meet the students who were travelling with me to volunteer at the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society. As we loaded up the car, one of the girls mentioned there had been some sort of an explosion in Boston and, thinking of the Boston Marathon and my cousins who were running in it and my brother who often is involved with it, I lent them my phone when one of theirs died so they could look up what happened. They stuck to the facts, which were still sketchy at the time - two explosions, some injuries - and we moved on to talk about other things.

Filed Under: Middle School, Teaching, On Education, Bill Ivey, diversity, In the Classroom, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Boston marathon bombing, racism, Education

Incontestably Human

April 15, 2013 by Bill Ivey

Recently, one of my Facebook friends posted that she was riding in a taxi when the driver told her, "You know, you're very lovely, very classy for a black lady." Flabbergasted (her word), she responded, "Well, I'm sure you THOUGHT that was a compliment, so thank you." During the Facebook conversation that followed this retelling, one of her friends commented, "Educating people out of their disillusion, fear, and stereotyping is a difficult thing, no?"

Filed Under: gender, On Education, Bill Ivey, Sexism, Beautifully different, diversity, All Girls Education, Phillips Academy, Feminism, In the Classroom, Women in media, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, racism, Education

Every Single One

March 25, 2013 by Bill Ivey

It was early in my second year at Pine Cobble School. Though all my students had arrived in the classroom, it wasn't yet time for class to actually start and I was mentally going over my goals for the day while the students, all in eighth grade, talked among themselves. One of them was going on at some length about what a pain his mother was, and a second, whose parents were divorced, jumped in with “You think you've got it bad? I've got two mothers!” A third student, caught up in the moment, topped that with “Oh yeah? Well, I've got three mothers!” There was a brief pause and then the second student said scornfully, “What are you talking about? You can't have three mothers!” The third student, whose parents were also divorced and whose mother was in a lesbian partnership, looked at me with a note of desperation on his face. “I think,” I stated unequivocally to the class, “the boy knows how many mothers he has.” My student's face relaxed into gratefulness as two other students nodded approvingly and the second boy's face struggled through confusion for a few agonizing moments before bursting with realization.

There's no question that we set a tone in our classrooms, and that tone can make all our students feel welcomed. Or not. The choice is ours. Of course, if we really and truly love all our students there isn't really a choice. And with each choice, one act at a time, we can build a welcoming classroom culture that endures from year to year. One keystone moment for me was the first day of my third year at Pine Cobble School. I was going over the usual course outline and classroom routines with my sixth grade French class when a student raised his hand and said, “I heard you don't let people say 'You're so gay' in your classroom.” “That's right,” I responded warmly and with a smile. He nodded and smiled back, and I thought back to the first time someone had used that expression in my classroom and I had responded firmly but quietly, “Please don't say that again.” “Why not?” the student asked and, taking this as a genuine question and not a challenge, I answered, “Because I have friends and relatives who are gay and the expression is insulting.” I didn't have to have very many more conversations before the expression disappeared entirely from my classroom. And now, it was clear why.

Filed Under: Middle School, Teaching, gender, On Education, Bill Ivey, diversity, All Girls Education, Feminism, In the Classroom, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, MIddle Level Education Month

Songs in the Key of Life

March 18, 2013 by Bill Ivey

(title taken from the title of Stevie Wonder's masterwork album, released in 1976)

Filed Under: Teaching, School Happenings, gender, Bill Ivey, 141 Reasons, Beautifully different, finding your voice, diversity, Rock Band, All Girls Education, Feminism, Performing Arts, performing, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Jose Vilson

Build Your Own House

March 14, 2013 by Bill Ivey

I was all set to jump on the Sheryl Sandberg bandwagon – and I'm not normally the bandwagon type. But I was caught up in the perfect storm. Within less than 48 hours, I stumbled on the cover story in Time Magazine, found a link to a piece about her in Jezebel (standard warning about visiting this site if you mind strong language), and discovered her Twitter account as well as that of LeanIn.org, on online organization “committed to offering women the encouragement and support to lean in to their ambitions.” There was even an indirect connection to Toward the Stars, an organization I've supported since its inception, as they offer empowering alternatives to Gymboree's “Smart Like Dad” and “Pretty Like Mommy” line referred to by Ms. Sandberg when she said, “I would love to say that was 1951, but it was last year. As a woman becomes more successful, she is less liked, and as a man becomes more successful, he is more liked, and that starts with those T-shirts.” And as an educator in a progressive girls school, how could I not love the fundamental message behind Ms. Sandberg's new book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead?

And then, searching on my computer for the Jezebel article as I prepared to begin writing this blog, I found Tracy Moore's thoughtful take on what Sheryl Sandberg has to teach us about the state of modern day feminism and I was reminded that few issues are ever as simple as they seem on first blush.

Filed Under: Teaching, Hanna Rosin, gender, On Education, Lean In, Marisa Mayer, LeanIn.org, Bill Ivey, Sheryl Sandberg, Beautifully different, diversity, Gloria Steinem, Feminism, In the Classroom, Women in media, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School

Not One Dollar: Guest Post From Charlotte M. '16

March 08, 2013 by Guest Faculty Bloggers

Charlotte M. '16 recently guest blogged at Twitter Youth Feminist Army's Blog, JellyPop. She wrote about the Women's Film Series here at SBS organized by Mary P. '13 and her experience watching "Iron Jawed Angels." In honor of International Women's Day on March 8th, we'd like to share it with you, and we hope you'll want to find out more!

Filed Under: JellyPop, gender, Twitter Youth Feminist Army, On Education, Beautifully different, MissRepresentation, Feminism, Women in media, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Iron Jawed Angels, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Education

Seeing the Trees Within the Forest

February 26, 2013 by Bill Ivey

Sometimes, you can't see the trees for the forest. Especially when your eyes are deliberately closed.

Filed Under: Middle School, Teaching, gender, The Girls School Advantage, On Education, Bill Ivey, diversity, All Girls Education, Feminism, Performing Arts, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, Women in media, Oscars, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Jose Vilson

Fight the Power

February 21, 2013 by Bill Ivey

Recently, I had the chance to touch base with Sally, our Head of School, about some of the more political blogs I've posted here recently. I wanted to thank her, because I know that by no means would every school offer me the degree of freedom that I have here. She told me she views this school as being about finding one's authentic voice, which was in one sense an eye-opening moment for me. Of course, that is a major part of our mission statement for what we do for our students, and of course, role modeling is always an important part of what we teach. But explicitly allowing and even encouraging adults to find their own authentic voices as part of a full-school holistic model? At that point, we are truly making our mission statement a way of life rather than just a lofty ideal we may or may not even be able to remember if asked.

Filed Under: Teaching, gender, Independent Schools, CTQ, Nancy Flanigan, standard curriculum, On Education, Bill Ivey, John Holland, diversity, Feminism, Malcom X, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Jose Vilson, Education

Fashion Statement

January 30, 2013 by Bill Ivey

Spirit Week is always one of the highlights of the SBS year, from the traditional "Pajama Day" on Monday right through the traditional "Color Wars" skits on Friday. Wednesday is usually "Spirit Day" (we wear blue and white and/or SBS clothing). Tuesdays and Thursdays, however, change around from year to year, providing a nice blend of tradition and routine on the one hand, and freshness and innovation on the other.

Filed Under: Middle School, School Happenings, gender, On Education, Bill Ivey, community, diversity, Feminism, In the Classroom, LGBTQIA Support, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Anti-Bullying, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School

In Community

November 13, 2012 by Bill Ivey

All knowledge is held in community. - Peter Sellars

Filed Under: Teaching, Alumnae, All-Girls, The Girls School Advantage, On Education, Bill Ivey, Beautifully different, Girls Schools, community, arts, All Girls Education, Boarding School, Performing Arts, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Education