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The Hole In The Wall

 

Why do Julie and Patrice have a hole in their wall and why are they sharing a web page? During the '97 - '98 school year Barton underwent major construction. The old portables were removed, walls were knocked down, new ones put up and our big, beautiful commons space was created. Things were really shaking! During that time we had to think creatively about how to carry on during construction and how to absorb shortage of classroom space. After ideas were bounced around, Patrice and I volunteered to combine our classrooms during the remodeling project. What was meant to be a temporary solution turned into a dynamic collaboration. We found so many advantages to working together. For example, with two teachers in one room, while one teacher led a large group the other teacher could work with individuals or pull small groups. We also found it advantageous to always have someone to pool ideas with, whether planning curriculum or problem solving social situations with children.

During those early years we shared one large classroom. As the referendum started to fade our class sizes crept from a ratio of 19 children to one teacher to

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the present 26 children per classroom. After seven years of working together,we could no longer so many children in one room and we began to prepare to move into separate rooms next to each other. A parent group ( and especially Tom Bailey) initiated a proposal to knock a hole in our wall. That group of parents sought approval from all the right people and raised money for the project. Steve DeLapp was also supportive of this project. The hole in our wall enables us to do all kinds of flexible grouping: sometimes large groups, simultaneous instruction, sometimes smaller groups in each room.

We've found that working together, we both are better able to meet the needs of children.  Susan Heitler, PH.D, author of The Power of Two, makes a mathematical analogy to describe a vital partnership. She's using the analogy to describe a marriage, but I'm using the same analogy to describe what happens in a collaborative working relationship.

"In mathematics, when you multiply a number by itself, you raise it to the power of two. As opposed to addition, where adding a number to itself merely doubles it, raising a number to the power of two causes exponential growth: for example, 10 + 10 = 20, but 10 x 10 = 100."  When Patrice and I put our heads together, we come up with more dynamic solutions.