Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire ~ William Butler Yeats
Amidst all of the construction for our new renovation, the change in routines for the students and my own new school jitters one thing stood out ~ our collective purpose. The entire school community - parents, teachers and administrators have one purpose when it comes to the children in our care; to provide the best for our children. Everyone wants that, and we all strive for it.
During the first week I watched excited children play with their friends on the yard, nervous parents watch their children walk into kindergarten for the first time and teachers do what they always do; make their classrooms a place of safety and comfort. And it wasn't easy for any of us. The construction made for new entry and exit routines that needed to be adjusted as we went through the week since nobody could plan perfectly for 700 students entering and exiting the school through one set of doors. As the first week flew by I came to realize how lucky I was for 3 reasons ~ the kids, the staff and the school leadership.
Kids alway amaze me. The have a way of always finding the bright side of things, even when their life outside of school may not be the best. This week was no exception. They arrived at school on Tuesday to find that most of their playground was fenced off due to the construction. All the tarmac games and basketball nets - gone. All that remained for them was a small playground structure and an empty field. I didn't hear one complaint and I was outside with them before school, at every recess break and after school. What I saw was kids creating their own fun playing tag, football, soccer, making origami and practicing yoga! It wasn't just their acceptance of the yard that amazed me with the students. Students I met in the halls during instructional time always made time to say hello and introduce themselves, they welcomed me into their classrooms and of course let me know how great the school is. I couldn't agree more, and they are a big reason why. Their parents should be very proud. They have raised great kids.
It's always interesting to me seeing the dynamics of a school staff. During my time as a learning technologies coordinator I worked with many different schools and was able to learn a lot about the importance of team building. This week I watched as teachers went out of their way, not to mention out of their contractual obligations, to support students. They were out on the yard before the entry bell rang, meeting and talking with students and supporting our new entry routines. They provided their opinions to administration on ideas to help improve the routines and most importantly they engaged their students in the classroom. I watched classes participate in people bingo so they could learn about each other and TRIBES Community Circles to build a strong, positive classroom culture from the beginning. Other classes engaged their students with BYOD. They learned about the importance of their digital footprint and about the importance of digital citizenship. Special Education staff greeted their students with the love and compassion that you can really only understand after you see them in action. Students listened and sang with teachers playing songs on the guitar. One student zoomed around the yard with in his wheelchair with an educational assistant and a "scary" T-Rex hidden in his safety belt to frighten the new Vice Principal. They are a great team, one I'm proud to be a part of.
This is my second Vice Principal assignment. I have been so lucky to have had 2 great Principals to work with in the past. I must be doing something right because I have hit the jackpot again. The first week could have gone much differently if it wasn't for the planning and forethought of the Principal. Her positive outlook, concern for staff and students and her approach to dealing with challenging situations are the reasons she is respected by everyone in our school community. After each entry we would wait outside and discuss how things went. She would listen to my thoughts, as well as any ideas from teachers and support staff. She re-adjusted routines and communicated to staff effectively. At the end of the week she sent a message to our electronic school conference congratulating everyone for their efforts on a successful first week of school amidst the chaos of construction. She praised their flexibility and patience during a stressful and busy time. And she was bang on when she said "we make a wonderful team!" A team that she leads, I might add.
These 3 reasons made my First Week = Great Week! I'd love to hear your first week stories. There are wonderful stories out there, let's hear them!