I have to say it was an amazing first week of school. The efforts our teaching team put in during summer days to learn and collaborate resulted in engaging teaching and learning. Students were happy.
Also, the tremendous efforts of my colleagues in the grades before fifth grade to teach these students was evident. Our students are ready to learn thanks to colleagues' terrific work and the love and care of so many family members. I don't think I've ever taught with a more experienced, talented, and invested team of educators and administrative staff before--our whole school is VERY strong in that regard. I must say it's humbling, challenging, and rewarding to work with such a dedicated and talented staff.
The challenge of the first few days existed in unexpected building changes and systematic snags. That happens at the start of programs everywhere, but I want to look for ways to mitigate that as much as possible. One way would be to make sure that all building work is complete one week before teachers or students arrive at school. That would give us the space we need to create and work without interruption. Another idea is to have a building reports update that specifically outlines the changes we'll have to endure during the first days of school. That would prepare us for what's to come. Finally, I think it's really important to include teachers' voice in authentic ways when it comes to building changes and updates. Often a facilities manager may not see a change from the perspective of the educators who work in the building each day. That was evident with our new furniture--it was chosen by facilities people and doesn't reflect the changes in what optimal classrooms look like today.
There were some collaborative challenges too. Challenges which make me have to rethink how we team with specialists to teach children well. Now that we've changed our grade-level model to a more collaborative, team model, how can we also change the way we work with specialists to maximize the teaching and learning. I will need to reach out more to those specialists to ask for their advice in this matter--what are their goals and how can we work together to reach our collective goals. Fortunately we have a new, inclusive planning meeting model which will give us time to develop our collaborative work in this regard.
All in all it was a tremendous first week of school in a welcoming school environment. Next week we'll continue our team building efforts, introduce family members to the program, and begin our teaching rotations. Onward.