Saturday, September 12, 2015

The First Week Of School Is Over.... Now What?

We just completed our first week of school... actually the first week plus a day.  The excitement for starting the school year was palpable. The teachers were here getting their classrooms ready and the building looked great.  Everyone survived (and hopefully learned something from) the mandatory day of PD and first Building Meeting.  All goals were set, the focus was delivered and all we had to do was greet the students.

Teachers greeted the students the first day with messages written in chalk over the playground and walkways.  As students arrived, each teacher waited outside on our blacktop to meet each student and many of the parents.  Once all of the buses and walkers arrived we followed a tradition we started some years ago where we welcome new students and staff by having them walk through as we cheer them on - - the "Clap In." This year, we were able to do this outside as the got ready to enter the building for the first time and it was awesome. Many parents participated in this because we were able to keep it outside. It is quite a spectacle.
Once students entered the building, they went to their classrooms and began the day. This was no typical day because we made a concerted effort to make this first day extremely engaging and fun. We focused on "Teaching Like A Pirate" activities that centered on engagement and relationship building.  Our teachers began to establish their Responsive Classroom models. Overall, it was a great day.  Each day after this initial day, I continued to see students involved in engaging activities where as they were laughing as they were learning.

The only obstacle was the heat.  We have an old building and most of the classrooms are not air conditioned.  All of the classrooms were extremely hot as almost every day it was over 90 degrees with high humidity.  By the afternoon, the staff and students were really worn out.  One other thing that really brought attention to the heat was that we had our Back To School Night on the 3rd day of School.  Parents became very aware of the heat in our building as they visited classrooms and sat in our all purpose room during my  sweaty presentation.  Back To School Night was successful and we made it through,sharing our programs and our hopes for the upcoming year.

So..... Now What?

Now we tighten our focus!  We get to know each child as a person and a learner. We structure our teaching to meet the needs of each and every child. We focus our interventions and develop a plan for growth.  Most of all, we must keep finding ways to engage our learners.  Each minute of each day must be meaningful.  As my teachers have heard me say numerous times... "What's the purpose?"  Each activity and plan be purposeful, engaging, and positive.  We must reflect and then re-aim on a daily basis.  We must share and work together for the benefit of all.  And most of all... We must keep the positive momentum and the excitement of the first day and week throughout the year. If we want to be great, it is not a one day thing... It is an everyday thing.