Construction Update: Science Counter and Muddy Lots!

Lots going on again this week.  There's no doubt we're in high gear!  Both inside and out, great progress continues.  On Monday, we gave a brief planning update at the neighborhood association quarterly meeting.  On Tuesday, while in the Museum District, we twice heard, "We are so excited about your school opening!"

1. Interior at 1102.  Electrical rough in completed in ceiling; concrete pour tomorrow will fill that (now shallow) trench; temporary electrical service is in place; this week, the sprinkler system will be installed.

 2. Interior at 1102. That's a science lab counter!  The steel frame was fabricated on site and will be installed after the concrete pour.  Some 3/4" bolts and epoxy will ensure it stays put if (when!) a student sits on it.

 3. Lot at 1108. A big muddy mess being graded into a perfectly pitched plot.

4. Tree line between 1102 and 1108.  Slightly less dense this week as the already-collapsing brick wall has been removed along with some of the nuisance trees and shrubs (a couple more to go).

5. 4614 corner lot.  Muddy here, too.  Clear and open.  Next up, grading.


Construction Update: Feb 17. Demolition Redux.

This week The Komatsu Claw reared it's head again in The Claw II.  As demolition wrapped up this week at 1108 Autrey, the site of the Post Oak High School inched closer to it's final form.  There's still the matter of grading and grass, but with the space open, we can see the light!

1. Interior of 1102.  Facing North.  Plumbing trench being backfilled, ceiling insulation complete, and HVAC duct work almost complete.  Not shown: electrical rough-in has started!

2. Corner lot.  Now barren and featuring a little swimmin' hole.  Next week will bring site work including grading.  (Goodbye swimmin' hole!)

3. 1108 Autrey looking NE.  This is the 'during' photo from Valentine's Day.  Don't you just *love* big work!

4. 1108 Autrey looking NW.


Middle School Design Teams

A few days back, we did a short informational presentation for the Middle School students.  We then invited them to work on some of the interior design components for the new high school building.  Ah, engagement.  Of course there were some fairly wild ideas (floor-to-ceiling-aquarium in reception area), but those were couched in a fantastic crop of thoughtful design concepts.

With blank floor plans in hand, the creative juices were flowing!


Construction Update: Feb 15 (from Feb 8)

I had some good photos from last week.  Sorry about the delay getting these up.  I'll have some more before the week is out.

1. Inside the main building.  Nothing gets the job done inside like a mini-excavator.  Clearing out trenches for new plumbing!

2. Inside the main building.  Insulation and new ductwork going in!  It's getting cozy!

3. Choosing finishes.  Construction isn't all dirty work!

 4. On the corner at 4614.  Clean up from the demolition continued late last week.  This week, the small house to the west of the school gets some attention from the track-hoe.

5. On the corner at 4614, the big-wigs in the hard-hats survey the progress.

As you can see, there's a lot going on.  More to come!


Adios 'Lecture'!

Eric Mazur has been telling his story for years now.  How as a lauded professor of physics at Harvard, he one day found out, by his own hand, that his students weren't really learning.  It began a new chapter in his career in which he better served student learning (imagine that) and shared his discoveries.  He also has some grave concerns about how we assess students:
“Our approach to testing only rewards perfection—but the road to innovation is littered with mistakes.”
Read on here from Harvard Magazine.

Mazur's presentation was part of the inauguration event for the Harvard Institute on Learning and Teaching (HILT).  Did you notice how 'learning' got billing above 'teaching' there?  No accident.  Symposium highlights here.  A teaser:
Former Tufts University president Lawrence Bacow, now a member of the Harvard Corporation, cited a faculty proverb: “We all teach for free but we get paid to grade.” He speculated that innovation in learning will eventually mean that “we will be released from the tedium that comes with grading.”


How Great Teachers Think...(like Bill Belichick?)

I'm sure there are many who put off all sorts of things because of yesterday's football game.  The Monday after the Super Bowl is perhaps the second least-productive work day of the year after Cyber-Monday.
[In 2010], 1.5 million Americans didn't show up for work the next day at all, and an estimated 4.4 million showed up late. Then there are all the people who do show up on time who are fuzzy, drowsy and blurry-eyed. (AOL Jobs)
Remember that question left dangling last week about the Talent Code and how teachers can help students find and develop their passions?

Author Daniel Coyle commented on just that and the Myth of Big Ideas in his January 24th post, "How Great Coaches Think."  Coyle comments on New England Patriots' coach Bill Belichick's acumen as displayed on his Belichick Breakdowns.

There are three questions to ask about an outcome (of a play):
1. Is it replicable?
2. Is it controllable?
3. Is it connective?
What does all that mean?  Read on...

We gave equal time to Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants. ;-)


Construction Update: Now the dumpsters...

It's hard to tell from the photos, but every single tree was protected on the lot.  Even the one that was growing less than a foot from the building's foundation is still there and intact.  Demolition is surgical destruction.  Well done.

And on the inside, creation:

Harvard Business Review: Montessori Leaders

Thoughts on how to develop future leaders from Ambiga Dhiraj at Mu Sigma, blogging for the Harvard Business Review.
In 2010 we began to model our development after Montessori schools, whose principals include "an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child's natural psychological development, as well as technological advancements in society."
The results?
We've already seen the results in terms of lower turnover among the entry-level employees who have been through the program. Our retention rates were noticeably higher in 2011 than they were in 2009-2010, and are trending steadily upward.


Construction Update: Demolition Video

As promised!  Activity continues today.

Hand-in-hand they come

As the high school opens, my mind is occupied with images of students.  Not just high school students.  I see silhouettes of students taller and shorter walking hand-in-hand; the older ones guiding the younger along, showing them the ways of Post Oak School.  

There is another, more subtle way to see that image.  Post Oak parent Mario Kapusta tells his story:
At home, we discuss the Post Oak School almost daily. The children are fully informed about the building, the curriculum, my involvement, the MFA and HMNS relationships,  the Ambassadors group, etc.
On her own initiative, [our daughter] wanted to contribute to the recruitment effort.
She runs a compensated “pet sitting” service in our neighborhood and knows several families. She thought that those families would be good targets of her Campaign.
[She] picked up the High School fliers, wrote her speech, and with adult supervision, she visited five families.  She distributed the fliers, and explained her understanding of a Montessori education, the ability to work independently and in groups, the location of the HS, the partnerships, etc.
Needless to say, the families were very impressed by our little ambassadorette! She plans to continue the Campaign next week end.
Her attitude, independence, ability to formulate an innovative plan, and behave like a small adult, speak the language she learns at Post Oak.
We feel that our school is the school for the XXI century.
(Emphasis in original!)

Mario's daughter reinterprets that image (with the sharp eye of Maria Montessori!) as the younger students leading the older ones into the school!


Construction Update: Demolition

It's a good time for a drive by on Montrose. The demolition has started and clear-off will continue through next week.  The Middle School students got a close up look Wednesday during a site visit and tour.  We'll have some video coming up!

Brains grow talent

If you read the 2010 book Bounce by Matthew Syed, you know this story.  Why are some people so good at doing certain things, e.g., Michael Jordan playing basketball?  As it turns out it's not in their genes.

This book is The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle (2009).

What are you good at?  What have you done to grow and develop that talent?

The three ingredients (according to Coyle):

1. Practice, practice, practice (build some myelin around your neurons)
2. Great coaching ("mild, laid back, intensely watchful")
3. Total concentration (it's called 'Flow', you'll want to know how to find it)

"You need to have that frustration, finding, and fixing."

How can we help students capitalize on this so they can maximize their potential through efficient, purposeful work?