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It begins...

Updated: Aug 27, 2021

I write this paragraph at the end of the day; after all that you are about to read already happened. I was moving all around building at a pretty fast pace today and just need to share what all I saw.

As I sat in the 2NW pod this morning during homeroom, some things that might seem second nature to many of you became apparent to me as worth mentioning. First, watching Justin welcome his students BY NAME was amazing. As someone that struggles with names, those of you that spend the energy to learn them quickly serve as a model for us.

I was also with K. Gordon's podium (see below) and made me aware how great it is that you bring a lot of yourself to your classroom - and should! A few years there, when I did not want to decorate my room, I asked my students to bring in things to hang on the walls, etc. While I did this for reasons of laziness, there was some unseen pedagogical aspects by helping to make the space more of the students' own.

I loved listening to Sherri Crane talk so passionately about the four pillars of the Circle of Courage and to bring personal meaning to them as well - modeling how they can be integrated into our daily lives. It took every fiber in my body not to go in and join the convo.

This afternoon, I saw Ms. (Meg) Drumm-Lozon, Mr. (Jay) Rodriguez, and Mr. (Nick) Eckstein open their 4th hour classes in the 2SE Pod by also acknowledging the different people in the room. Introductions were made, conversations were had, ice was broken. There was also some syllabi being gone through and content engaged - but not everywhere. This is good too. I know we don't stagger this formally, but imagine what going through six hours of syllabi would be like. So well done.

This might be a good place to talk a little about ice breakers and team builders. They are different and are employed with different goals in mind. Team builders try to develop class dynamics and even dispositions with working with each other. Here is a quick explanation between the two from William & Mary.

Spending passing between 4th and 5th hour in the 1SW pod was perfect timing. I heard Sandy Cover urging people "Don't Stress!" and then listening to Kathy McGlynn open her class eliminated any stress that may have been lingering. If you ever need an hour of calming and meditation, her class is for you. Mia Eckstein spent the first 10 minutes of class directing lost students (something that probably all of you have done a lot these last few days).

Meanwhile, down in the B Wing, speaking of introductions, Yasmin was open to answering questions about who she was. Again, this being as authentic as you are comfortable with goes a long way and students want to know. Knowing what to share and want not to share can be a fine line but Yasmin is clearly a professional and was able to balance this masterfully. Next door, OC (Jason O'Connor), was explaining what makes him passionate about his content and was even building on what he taught students last year. Candance Knack decided not to engage in rules and procedures and instead built on the homeroom lessons with her content (using colors as representatives of different personality types).

Down in the World Language pod, I am not sure what was going on (Japanese was being spoken), but there was laughing and clapping coming out of Tracy Pollard's room. That I understood - laughter is the same in any language.

I then ran into Jodi Darland on her planning period. She was opening letters students had written her. She gave them a template where they wrote how best they learn, what challenges they face, etc. They then wrote on the outside of the envelop their preferred pronouns and song they are listening to these days. Then on the way back upstairs, I saw Steve Wichmann's word map he made with his students in the shape of the number of the class period.

As I reflect on what I saw, I know that one reason instruction is strong in this building is because it is a little different in every room; that you embrace your authentic selves and make your classroom as authentic as possible, just like Ken's podium. One last thing, I think there is a way now for you to comment on these blogs - feel free to keep the convo going!


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