The transition into the Dolphins is a big moment for BIS kids, as they have watched the older students as leaders for so many years and now it is their turn! A student transitions in to the Dolphins when they begin to realise that there is more to the world than their immediate concerns; they begin to look at the whole class group, not just their group of buddies. Even the BIS community as a larger group becomes important to them as a means to their happiness and connection. The Dolphins are avid in their judgements of themselves and others—they are all about setting benchmarks and measures to compare for inclusion or exclusion. This is the developmental point where a child begins to fully understand time and begins to see into their future. This means they start to transition into learning for long term goals, for delayed gratification and for a vision of where they can see themselves heading.
The Focus of the Class
The Rule-Conformist child is not as it sounds, following the rules. They are at a point of confidence when they feel like they have understood this rule notion and now they are ready to use it. The conforming is the belief that the rules are the answer. This means that the focus of the Dolphin Basecamp is on allowing them to explore the ways that rules for systems like writing, math, logic and games can be extended by them, expanded and developed. It is so easy for them to be swallowed up by the “shoulds” of the system at this stage so the focus has to include helping them remain aware of their motivations and visions.
This means that the teacher needs to take into account two key and sometimes conflicting points:
Accepting that they are at a point where they want to connect them to a world bigger than their immediate experience so they can expand their connections
Aspire to help them maintain connection with the self and their own passions and not be subsumed by their peers.
The Dolphin is beginning to fully appreciate the feelings and needs of others, more easily with support but still able to confidently “step into another’s shoes”. Conflict Resolution is an excellent behaviour tool at this stage as the Dolphins enjoy reasoning through the problems and gaining resolution. This developmental stage can be determined to try and gain some control and show the group they have power. It is important for their teacher to have the social capital of the group in their control as it is the best way to get the “class” working together. As the school leaders, the Dolphins are expected to display positive behaviours and exemplify what it means to be a BIS kid. The seniors are the school leaders and are trained each year to take on that role.
Completing Focused Tasks
At this stage in their development the Dolphin student wants to feel confident and successful in what they do. They are expected to learn how to use diaries, understand deadlines, work to criteria, set goals, self assess, keep track of their materials and resources, be able to ask questions and bravely listen to feedback: a big ask for anyone. The Dolphin student graduates BIS with confidence building in all these areas. The teacher’s role is to remind them… all the time… to check their diaries, work through lists. Their teacher is also tasked with keeping the classroom culture one of a learning community and ensuring that thinking deeply and joyfully playing with ideas is valued. Part of this culture setting is working with the students on intentional breathwork, at all session transitions and whenever the energy in the room seems scattered. The teacher uses a meditation bowl to draw the students attention to their body and breath.
Transitioning to Caring and Sharing
The Dolphin is fully aware of the needs of others and how their fulfilment at the same time as theirs, makes everything work better. The challenge at this stage is that they still are developing an awareness of an interior self /unconscious which means that they will still “act” happy but be sad inside and not realise, and they definitely cannot see that in others. This stage desperately needs help to identify what they are actually feeling inside as they will be busy with the surface action “I am angry” doing angry things, whereas the actual issue is something else. We work solidly with them on focusing on the feelings in their body, where they are holding tension. This is much more effective than focusing on feelings at this stage of development. The body awareness will release the feeling with ease.
Students develop a strong bond together and the graduates stay in touch throughout their lives. Testament to this is our active Facebook Alumni page where past students share photos, family updates and stay in touch.
A Snapshot of the Dolphins Base Camp
Every morning at BIS starts with a morning meeting for the Dolphins, designed to be the group cincture to ensure the community culture is strong. The agenda is written up on the board for students to track and referred back to throughout the day. It is also the time for any extra Self Directed Learning Goals to be shared so that everyone knows what extra activities are available. At least once per week this is also the time for “show and tell” and rules discussion. Students are silent during this agenda setting so everyone can jump into the mornings Lab Session quickly. Morning talks are presented, times tables worked on together and some HPE goals: both personal ones and group based ones.