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Stuck in the Middle: A way for Mr. Russell to share about the culture of NSMS

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Stuck in the Middle: A way for Mr. Russell to share about the culture of NSMS
by Kal Russell - Friday, 5 March 2021, 2:30 PM

Stuck in the Middle: A Special Gift!

We recently received a thank you gift from the family of an ex-North Saanich Middle School student. It was presented to us with a heartfelt thank you and an acknowledgement of the impact that NSMS had on their daughter. Their daughter is now attending the University of Moscow and studying Mathematics. This special gift was a set of wooden Matryoshka dolls, also known as Russian dolls or stacking dolls. Very cool, but at the time, we didn't realize the impact it would have on our school culture.   

We shared the Matryoshka dolls' story and the reason they were given to the school at a recent virtual assembly. The adult staff and a few students found the story touching, but what has happened this past week with the Matryoshka dolls has brought our school together as a community and put some fun back into our school lives.  

We decided to hide one doll each day in a common school area, starting with the largest doll and working down to the smallest doll. The first day a few students became engaged in the hunt for the dolls, but it quickly started to pick up momentum and the school interest when students and staff couldn't find the first doll.  

We decided to treat it like any learning activity for our students by making it challenging. Like all assignments we give students, we try to make them in the area between the student's comfort zone and their frustration zone. This theory, developed by (surprise) a Russian Psychologist named Lev Vygotsky is called the Zone of Proximal Development. This zone is where the best learning takes place.  

When the students looking for the dolls could not find them, the word spread quickly, and the hunt became widespread. Later that day, I found two young ladies wandering the halls looking for the dolls. It was 4:30 PM in the afternoon. One of the most famous Dolly’s (Parton) of all time would say that our challenge had turned into a "9 to 5" job.  

The next morning I found an Educational Assistant huddled with a grade 7 boy going over strategies for finding the dolls. Now that was some unexpected early morning collaboration.  

"Good Morning Mr. Russell" has been replaced with, "Can you give us a hint?"  

"Good morning to you as well," I reply.  

But kids are persistent and they continued to pepper me with questions. "Is it in the grade 8 hallway? Is it up high? Is it outside? Is it in a corner?"

"Hey, be careful!" I reply with my best Patrick Swayze smile, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."   

At North Saanich Middle School, everyone knows about Matryoshka dolls! They just might not know where to find them all. We connect through shared interests and activities at school, and this year has been extremely challenging to find those events. But a special gift of gratitude from a family provided us with an activity that has united our school during the last two weeks leading up to spring break.    

Go 'find the dolls' Hawks!

Большое спасибо - Translation - A very big thank you to an ex-NSMS family. 

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