Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Thinking about the school year: The Big Picture

The school year, not unlike the agricultural year, is broken up into multiple time frames for ideal teaching. To understand this yearly organization is to help you teach better.

What does the year look like?

June Transition: Good byes and Hellos
The school year actually ends and begins in June. In June we say good bye to the year's students with a number of celebratory and closure events, and we also say hello to our new students with an introductory meeting, supply list, move-up letter, and class lists.

Teachers generally spend some time during the summer months reviewing the year in general, planning special events, and studying topics to deepen and improve their craft.

September: Relationship Building and Introductory Exercises
In September we get to know our students, collegial team, and families. We host a curriculum night, collect survey information, start showcase portfolios, and engage in community building introductory academic and social/emotional activities.

Generally in October we begin to practice and get used to the learning/teaching routines as we begin to dig into the curriculum program.

November - January
These months include lots of focus on the academic program with a variety of activities. We end this period with a few assessments and progress reports.

February to Early April
We dig in more with the curriculum and end this period with more assessments.

Early April to End of May
This marks the MCAS period when the school schedule changes to accommodate MCAS tests. The days are spent with curriculum review activities, MCAS tests, play rehearsals, STEAM projects, and biography project efforts.

End of May to June
This is our big project based learning time when students perform their fifth grade play and Global Changemakers character presentation. They also engage in a number of celebratory events, a stewardship hike, and the global cardboard challenge.

Generally each part of the year includes a few field studies, expert visitors, and/or special events. There are also unit assessments and projects that break up the traditional learning events.

Good choreography of the school year makes a school year program engaging and meaningful--to look at the big picture of the year first, and then to input the specific events helps a lot in this regard.