On The Point blog from Rock Point School

Abbey Baker

Abbey has been teaching and tutoring English and writing at Rock Point for more than 12 years. Over the years, she has enjoyed developing the Visiting Writer Series, running the school's Gender & Sexual Alliance, working with the Vermont Young Playwrights' program, and launching a zine-making elective for students to publish and showcase their creative work. Outside of school, she loves spending time with family, exploring Burlington, and trying to keep up with her students' pop culture recommendations.

Recent Posts

The Rise of Zines for Interdisciplinary and Experiential Learning

During our electives classes at Rock Point, students get a chance to learn and practice skills that go beyond traditional academics. Playwriting, photography, makerspace, and stained glass are regular offerings during this 45-minute morning class. Students produce beautiful creative work, learn new skills, and experience the process of executing an idea. Two years ago, we added a new course to the electives roster, zines.

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The Evolution of Academic Rigor

Perhaps it comes in the form of a perfect writing prompt, when you see a student’s eyes light up, their pencil start furiously scribbling. Maybe it happens as a student watches a chemical reaction take place in the science lab, or while they’re discussing today’s news in connection with the Civil Rights movement, or as they are guided through a museum and asked to compare the techniques of various artists. As an educator, I know it when I see it: the moment when a student reaches the fine line between challenge and frustration. It occurs when students are interested in the material, supported enough to keep up with the work, and challenged enough that they have to learn and practice new skills. This is when students grow, and when they make true progress. 

Today, this “aha” moment has become the definition of academic rigor.

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Relationships and Connection Build Confidence in Teens

As the spring approaches, our students take part in events that showcase their many achievements throughout the year: our annual Art Show, the Vermont Young Playwrights’ Festival, our student-produced prom, and, of course, our weekend of Graduation events. These opportunities for our students to celebrate their success also allow them a chance to be seen, appreciated, and publicly praised by their peers and by the adults who’ve come to know them throughout the year.

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Drawing Out the Quiet Power of Introverts in the Classroom

Earlier this year, I read an NPR interview with Susan Cain, author of Quiet, and most recently of Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts. In it, Cain reveals a nationwide growth in understanding that sometimes quiet students are just as engaged, talented, and successful in school as their extroverted peers. Cain points out that as a culture we’ve tended to value the extroverted person for their willingness to contribute, their confidence, their assertiveness. In school, we often encourage extroverted behavior by grading students on class discussion and presentations. But this approach may have missed something important: introverted students need to be valued for who they are, and then led slowly, rather than pushed, out of their comfort zone.

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