At Westfield Friends School, “students are taught from a very young age to find power and find wisdom in the differences of each other and to seek their own truth through active and joyful inquiry,” says fourth grade teacher Paige Martin. “The Quaker values are weaved within all that we do as teachers as well.”
Paige tells us how her own childhood education in a Quaker school prepared her for teaching, and how she and her colleagues have worked to keep students engaged in this time of remote learning.
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One time when I was in college my teaching professor asked us about our high school and our
experiences at high school and I told him that I went to Quaker school at Moorestown Friends School and he looked at me and he says, “That makes sense for you,” and I said, “What do you mean by that?” and he says, “The way that you reflect upon your teaching shows that you understand the importance of education and the importance of reflection on what you are teaching.”
Returning to Quaker Education
My name is Paige Martin and I live in Riverton, New Jersey, and I am the fourth grade teacher at Westfield Friends School.
I attended Quaker school pre-k through 12th grade and so for my whole elementary school and high school years I was attending a Quaker school. When I was a senior in high school at Moorestown Friends School. I was given the opportunity to choose an internship in the field that I may want to have a career in and I was placed in a classroom at Westfield Friends School where I had attended for K -8 and I spent the last month of my high school career watching and participating in that Westfield Friends community where I watched the teachers guide the students in living lives of integrity, in being reflective, in promoting peace, and really exercising stewardship– all those good Quaker things– and it’s just something that I saw… That my own personal Quaker education didn’t just point me on one path; they guided me on a journey and in reflection through dialogue, through inquiry, and being able to be part of a teaching community and being able to be a teacher in general and being able to provide other students along that journey is really what made me want to become a teacher.
Quaker Values in Action
So at Westfield part of our mission is “The world we seek for children begins here,” and really the Quaker values is seen throughout all parts of the school community, instilled in all parts of the day. Students are taught from a very young age to find power and find wisdom in the differences of each other and to seek their own truth through active and joyful inquiry, so definitely the Quaker values are weaved within all that we do as teachers as well. I know that in my classroom my students learn the most when they’re able to discuss with each other, when they’re able to collaborate with each other and kind of become creative learners. Not… It’s not just facts coming from me to the student; it’s more of a guided, like, inquiry-based educational program where students can show how their differences can be shown through the instructions, through the academics.
Transitioning to Virtual Learning
So teaching remotely has definitely lended itself to becoming even more creative educators and one thing we’ve really had to sit down and think, “Okay, how can we relate what we do in the classroom into online– in an online format?” and it made us really take a hard look at how we were teaching and what we were teaching and what would still engage those learners online. Worksheets and things like that is not something that the students are going to wake up every day and be excited to do,so becoming creative and allowing students to participate in assignments that excite them is something that I have found has been successful through this online learning journey. It’s easy for students to not be at a Zoom meeting and I think we as educators need to talk about, “Okay, what is going to help students feel connected to our community still?” and working together, I think we have done a really great job of doing that.
- 1) How do Quaker values lend themselves to an educational setting? In what ways can we see these values enacted in our children? In our educators?
- 2) What are you doing to support and celebrate teachers, especially now? What is your community doing?
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.