We welcome Seeley Taylor back to the blog after interviewing Mrs. Carli Rivers, 7th and 8th Grade science teacher. Seeley interviewed Carli Rivers to see how she has been taking advantage of the spaces and the technology. Seeley met Mrs. Rivers four years ago when she first came to Harley. To her, Mrs. Rivers seemed like the perfect person to interview because she was the only Middle School teacher who taught core classes in The Commons. Carli recently left on maternity leave, but Seeley was able to connect with her just before she left. Here is the transcript of the interview… We intend to use these same basic questions to gather feedback and information from all of the faculty who regularly teach in the Commons building.
Seeley Taylor: Now that four months have passed and classes are being held in The Commons, how has having your classes in The Commons changed your curriculum or your approach to teaching?
Carli Rivers: The Commons has opened my eyes to new curricular opportunities because it has served as an inspiration! It provides new experiences for students to be at the center of unique projects and also provides the space for them to do so. The Commons has forced me to recognize the need for student exploration of the building—they need to see and know what’s here and why.
ST: How have you seen your students take advantage of The Commons?
CR: After being in our classroom for only three months, students are using the building in both academic and extracurricular ways. The seventh graders have a grade-level homeroom meeting in the Briggs Center once a week and take part in the cleaning of Flag Hall and Beckerman. The seventh grade science classes have spent quite a bit of time working with Mr. Hartman in the greenhouse, project space, and workshop. In addition, they enjoy Flag Hall as a hangout space. The first middle school dance was recently held in the Briggs Center as well as the Middle School Geography Bee.
ST: Do you believe it is important for students to get a hands-on experience working with the new technology built into The Commons? If so, why?
CR Our world is becoming more and more technological and it would be a disservice to students if we didn’t provide them with opportunities to learn the advantages and disadvantages of various types of technology.
ST: What interests would you like to see students develop and explore in this space?
CR: I would like students to become more interested in each system of the building and how different systems work together. I would like them to identify what aspects of the building they could manipulate and why making small changes could make big differences in terms of energy consumption. I would also like students to develop an appreciation and awareness for energy concerns and sustainability as they pertain to our local and global environments.
ST: A net-zero building is a building that makes enough energy to sustain itself. One of Harley’s goals for The Commons is to make it such a building. How should students be involved in the process of achieving Harley’s goal?
CR: I think the first part of this is gaining knowledge of the various systems of The Commons and learning why architectural and construction choices were made. A second part of student involvement is having an understanding of energy — the various types and how one form can be converted to another. A discussion to answer the question of “Why net-zero?” may also be helpful – you need students to look at learning about the building and managing it through that lens. Lastly, it comes down to data collection, controlled experiments, and analyses that allow students to physically see the impact of their actions.