Introducing Lead Educator, Ian Peters, Sapphire Room

“I grew up in a family full of teachers so I spent a lot of time in my mom’s classroom, just working in there and helping out, and I kind of knew from an early age that that’s what I wanted to do.” - Ian Peters

Since he was a young child helping to organize the library books in his mother’s classroom, Ian has felt a calling to education. The oldest of three kids growing up in rural Albany, Oregon, Ian had lots of space and freedom to explore his favorite books and dive into his imagination, creating new and exciting worlds in his backyard. After enrolling in Western Oregon University, he started to feel a calling to work with at-risk and emotionally abused children in group homes. It was in these group homes that Ian discovered the awesome power that children hold within themselves and when given a safe outlet and a caring ear, how that inner power can reach out helping to transform a community. After being introduced to Natural Learning Relationships three years ago, that awareness of the power that children hold has evolved into something deeper. Acknowledging, mapping, and nurturing the consciousness of children is his greatest passion. Now, Ian is thrilled and feels privileged to join an amazing and committed team at Summa Institute.

In this video, Mr. Peters shares how he learned about Natural Learning Relationships, the environment of safety and assurance he creates in his classroom, and how much he enjoys teaching kids how to read (shot in 2014 at an Open House).

Highlights of his talk include:

“I just got to see firsthand how [Natural Learning Relationships] shifted for that family, and how that system changed in a way that benefited not only the kiddo but the family system and their learning style and nurturing the true consciousness of children. And that was a pretty special thing. And I was like, I want to do this with more than just three kids.”

“The biggest thing about that age (6-8), is that they’re growing in all these competencies, but they’re very hesitant to step into them ‘cause it’s a feeling of unsure and unfamiliar ways to deal with failure or lack of success. So the biggest thing in that Sapphire Room is creating a safe environment for those mistakes to come forth, because that’s a huge mode of learning. And a big mode of learning, too, at that age, is imitation. So if they see that it’s okay and they continue to keep trying, then that really allows a lot of their greatness to come forth. So the biggest thing in there is that sense of safety with the kids so that they can feel free to go into those areas, where they’re unsure, and know that they’re going to be okay, even if they struggle.”

“Rather than approaching [the Common Core curriculum] through testing, we do our own assessments…not only of their skill level in there, or their competencies there, but also of their mode of learning. So not everybody gets the same work.”

“We find what works for that kid, come up with different strategies, different ways to approach problems, and we find that a lot of that brings a scaffolding element to the classroom, which allows different skills to pair with different skills to solve a complex or difficult problem.

“We just breed that sense of safety within the classroom to go into those places, and so it’s not a place where a kid will get shutdown if they make a mistake; it’s an opportunity to learn. By doing that, we model our own mistakes quite a bit in the classroom, and how we handle those mistakes.”


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