This weekend my daughter (ten years old) and one of her friends had a sleep over (I call them stay overs, because typically there is little sleep happening) with their American Girl Dolls (AGDs). Her friend could not bring her full compliment of her AGD army because Julie’s head melted a bit when accidentally left next to the heater, and so she was off to the AGD hospital for a new head (not really a critical part of this story, but a funny anecdote).
My daughter has a rather large AGD house in her room (thanks to her dad and grandpa). One of the rooms in her house includes a fully stocked school – is that due to her mother’s long standing career in education or the highly effective marketing of the AGD catalogs that seem to arrive at our door as steadily as emails to my inbox. Anyway, as the girls were setting up to play school, they assigned roles to their dolls. One of the first roles assigned was to Mia who was honored with the role of intern. I only overhead this brief interchange as I breezed through my daughter’s room, but it gave me pause to reflect on the impact these pre-professionals have on our children. That my daughter and her friend (both of whom have interns in their classrooms this year) thought to include an intern as an important member of their school, tells you how our Professional Development School has become a fully participating member of our school community. We are not the PSU/SCASD PDS, we are our PDS. In my recent district newsletter I considered how to refer to our upcoming inquiry conference and went back and forth about is it a university/district PDS or is it just our PDS – the lines being so blurred that the distinct partners are no longer separate entities, but rather an evolved organization that is stronger because of the contributions of both partners.
Hearing the word intern in my house brought this point home to me in such a powerful way. Not only did it show how integral the PDS is, but it showed me that kids notice. What we do, what we model in our classrooms, is noticed. I have been involved in our PDS partnership for fifteen years and have never been more proud of the work educators have contributed to learning – learning of interns, teachers, teacher educators, administrators, and students. When I asked my daughter about her experiences with interns (she has had an intern in her classroom four of five years), she talked about being proud of being with an intern. She gets that she is helping interns learn just as her intern helps her learn – just ask her to sing the Buffalo song, written to Roar – and you get the idea (Thank you Mr. Polak!).
I found this post waiting for me to complete and realized I never posted it this spring. Given that we are preparing for another school year and welcoming a fresh class of interns, I thought I would reread it and post it now. I think it’s a good reminder of how much children notice in our classrooms – whether we are interns, teachers, administrators, or parents, they notice.