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 aware to them as a means to their happiness and connection. The Dolphins are avid in their judgments 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 begin to see into the future. In their last year at school they begin to see into the future beyond the next few weeks, they begin to see 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.
This means that the teacher needs to take into account two key and sometimes conflicting points:
1) 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
2) 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 Dolphin 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. (Left, students attend the GRIP leadership conference)
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.
A Snapshot of the Dolphin Day
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.
First session – Lab 1
Every morning begins with these focussed academic tasks but the developing ego means that individual is still at the centre of the planning. The student will work with the teacher, teacher-aide and parent helpers to achieve regular progress to ensure they achieve their academic benchmarks. Each child has their own individually developed program to cover any areas that need extra week or to extend them to ensure they are not getting bored. The Dolphin teacher will often have a one- on- one lesson with students during this time or small group lessons. Standard activities cover academic essentials of spelling, times tables and maths facts, comprehension and grammar with weekly writing tasks. The Dolphins, unlike the Penguins and Otters, want the most expedient and quick way to gather the information, they don’t need everything to be entertaining. The Dolphin class has a strong publication culture with student work shared in the group regularly.
Second session – Lab 2
Depending on the day of the week, the Dolphins are working on science, history, geography, technology or the arts. The design of these sessions is through a model of learning enrichment. Week 1-4 is designed to gain info and get some big questions formed. After OMNI in week 5 the students move into their making session from week 6 until the assessment is due.Therefore during these Lab sessions the Dolphins, depending on their skill level and interest in the topic may work over these making weeks with little explicit learning from teachers but other students may find that the topic needs some extra support. There is a lot of flexibility in this session for targeted skill learning. This is a busy session with students moving around the school to work with relevant adults teaching topics they need, going out on mini excursions, researching and making. Unlike the Otters, the Dolphins are expected to take on challenging independent tasks in at least one subject area.
Lunch – Lunchtime art sessions, nature clubs, music practice, drama practice, gardening, leadership meetings
Third session – Cultural and individualised program
The final session of the day is focused back on the individual student as they hone visualisation techniques and burgeoning meditation skills with beginning mantra and candle flame focused meditation. This session may also see them play some games to highlight kindness and sharing. This is also the time of the day when the BIS values are discussed and work occurs on the “Who Am I” book, to help develop compassionate communication skills. Some days there will be Whole School Meeting run by the Dolphins or an afternoon sports session (yoga or Ju Jitsu) that they will lead with the whole school involved. This part of the day is always about connecting to self or connecting to others. It is the chance to review the day, think about tomorrow and dream.
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.