Reading, Teaching, Learning

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Slice of Life - Open House


  I love participating in Slice of Life, started by Two Writing Teachers and writing a story, reflection, or musing at least once a week.
  
     Last night, our school, Columbia Intermediate, held its Open House for 5th and 6th graders.  We have recently made the switch to teams, based on our study of Taming of the Team by Jack Berckemeyer, an hilarious  and informative speaker and workshop leader.  Our principal is passionate about meeting the needs of middle school/intermediate students, and she felt that moving toward teaming would help us do that.  I am part of the leadership team, responsible for helping move our building toward teaming.  One of the things we wanted to do to support our students is revamp the way we do our opening programs.  We used to have an ice cream social, and then an information session a week or so later.  These weren't terrible, but they weren't particularly innovative, either, and largely involved the parents by having them sit and listen in a packed cafeteria.  We decided to go back to an Open House idea, but with a few twists.

Taming of the Team: How Great Teams Work Together
     
     Our fifth grade teams are still in teams of two (with one three-person team), helping the transition between our three elementary schools, where students have been since kindergarten, and our intermediate building. Our sixth grade teams are in teams of four, helping our students transition to a junior high experience, where they will have many teachers.  Teams chose names and mottoes (I work with many teams since I teach kids identified gifted in reading, but I was still assigned to the sixth grade Team Legacy, to give me a "home" - other specials teachers, like our intervention specialists, were also assigned teams).  Some teams even chose to make t-shirts (Team Renaissance).  Teams will be meeting at least once a week to discuss students and make plans, contact parents, meet with students, etc.  I love the spirit of collaboration and caring this creates.

     Our Open House started at 6, and by 5:30, there was a long line of parents ready to come in and learn about our school and its teachers.  We arranged "Lockers and Lollipops," since students get lockers and locker combinations this year.  In the past, this caused a lot of stress and chaos on the first day of school when students tried getting into their lockers for the first time.  We helped alleviate this by giving them their locker combinations last night and having them try it out.  When they were successful, they opened the locker and found a lollipop and a note of encouragement inside.  Some teams set up scavenger hunts, Chromebooks with a Google Parent Information form, gave out creative team brochures, arranged ice-breakers, and much more.  Students were able to go through the cafeteria line and tour the building. It was a night filled with energy and positivity.  And we still served ice cream.

     There is no doubt that students will start today feeling more relaxed and excited since they've met their teachers, saw that they will be taken care of and encouraged by teams, and experienced a staff who is ready for them.

12 comments:

  1. Wow! What an exciting way to start the year for you and your students. I love the collegiality here. We have team taught for years in 5th grade and I do think it is a good thing for students to get ready for the many teachers they will face in middle school.

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  2. Sounds like your school is more than a "professional community"--it's a more inclusive community that includes students and parents!

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  3. I love the idea of Lollipops in the Lockers! As I sit here, I'm getting excited for my students to come tonight, and it will be community based as well. One of my favorite parts of my school as well. Best of luck to you this year!

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  4. Sounds like you are off to a great start for this new school year! Cheers!

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  5. Sounds great!!! I've heard Jack Berckemeyer speak before. He is AWESOME!!! Great ideas and so much enthusiasm! Best of luck with teaming!!! :)

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  6. I just started teaching in the middle school this year and we use the teaming concept. I really like it. We have a teaming period and it has been so nice to discuss student needs and ideas to help them be successful. Here's to a great school year!

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  7. Holly, the opening of school activities sound very interesting as you ease your students and parents into their yearlong journey. Would you consider linking up this post about your opening to the Showcase of Teaching and Learning global share of best practices for others to see. You can find that link at http://beyondliteracylink.blogspot.com/2014/06/moving-our-learning-forward-via-virtual.html.

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    1. Just linked it, Carol. Thanks for the invitation!

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  8. All sound like terrific ideas, Holly. What spirit all of you have and caring for these students. I always think they're so brave, to show up to a new building, new classes, etc., & you have made it easier by far. I bet the parents loved it, too. Congrats-hope the day was wonderful!

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  9. I love the "Lockers and Lollipops"!

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  10. Go, teams! I love the way you all plan together for a cohesive opening day. My sixth graders have their discovery day tomorrow - lockers and big on our agenda, since thats what causes so many issues when school starts for real.

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  11. I'm adding that book to my TBR list! Sounds like a wonderful and fun night for parents, students, and teachers! Love the lockers and lollipops idea!

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