This year began with a change in my role as an administrator. I find myself working with an exceptional group of middle school teachers. The past three days of school have been what I can only call inspiring as this teacher cohort has dedicated itself to welcoming new students and welcoming back returning students.
The first day began with teachers volunteering their prep time to facilitate activities planned by the counsellor. The purpose of these activities was to build relationships with one another and their teachers as well as to get familiar with a large new school. Activities included a “fashion infraction” where teachers modeled clothing deemed unacceptable to a school setting (I wore a beer shirt with sunglasses), how to open up your lock, an amazing race to explore the school and much more. The grade sevens were the only students in the school and had free reign to explore and get comfortable for the entire morning before the first day of school started two days later.
Another teacher organized “activation.” A series of stations where each grade level (seven through 12) came in at different times and within an hour had their picture taken and received school ID, text books signed out, lockers assigned, timetables handed out.
I visited every middle school classroom the following day and watched how teachers had planned activites around getting to know one another and building relationships. Another noticeable characteristic of most of the classrooms was how their rooms were set up. All rooms had desks or tables set up for cooperative learning (not group work). Most classrooms had “soft seated” areas in the classrooms and many had light filters or lamps to adjust the lighting. Words of welcome and encouragement were displayed throughout.
I am confident all of this preparation and dedication in the beginning will pay huge dividends throughout the year. I am very proud to be a part of this team and look forward to supporting them however I can.