From Strong Roots, a Learning Community Grows
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” or so the old saying goes. In my 20 plus years as an educator, I’ve come to believe this more and more. Not that we can’t change how people think of us, but rather that it really matters how you engage with others and manage your relationships from the start.
For a teacher, these first impressions create the foundation for a successful year. This is why we spend the summer working on curriculum, reading up on best practices, and planning how we will structure learning time and create physical spaces that best support and engage our students. Every year is another chance to make a first impression with our students, to build classroom community, to create meaningful shared expectations, to set and reach goals for learning. On the door of the first grade building this A.A. Milne quote appears, “Any day spent with you is my favorite day. So today is my favorite day.” Students read the bulletin board in Matt’s music room and are reminded that they are artists, leaders, creators, thinkers and musicians.
Students at Burgundy are fortunate to have a team of teachers from whom they learn, teachers who have deep knowledge and expertise in their area as well as a true passion for their subject. This means, especially as students get older, that there are many transitions they manage throughout the day. They have to navigate different classroom spaces as well as academic challenges. But as a teaching community there is much we can do to ease these transitions for children and create a meaningful and consistent experience. Signs remind students to use quiet voices and calm bodies as they enter the Loft. Steps for calming your body with mindfulness appear throughout the library.
Over the first few weeks our children are experiencing a gentle and gradual start to the school year. As they begin to settle into their classrooms they share their hopes and dreams for the year, they brainstorm classroom rules, and they learn more about each other and their teachers. They learn what materials they need for each class and where to find those materials; and perhaps more importantly, how to be safe and clean up for themselves. They practice how to work together in groups and on their own, how to travel between different spaces, and how to participate in meaningful and respectful conversations where every voice is heard. In Mary’s art class they watch a short video she created explaining how to use and put away the materials. In Marisa’s Spanish class they learn Spanish words to describe the different volume levels of their voice they can use in the classroom. In 6th grade science they create lab safety posters that prepare them for hands-on experiments.
Having a successful year depends on the strong foundation our teachers and students are building in this first month and it will only remain so with constant care and attention from everyone in our community. We look forward to a strong partnership with students and families this year!