Weekly Reflection: A new school year

Essential agreement - process as well as product.
Essential agreement – process as well as product.

A new school year starts.

If finishing a school year in June was weird, beginning one in August is even weirder.

A new year brings with it new challenges and opportunities, some expected others not. There is no such thing as the perfect class, just a group of kids you hope leave wiser and happier after spending time in their classroom.

I’m moving down another year level to Year 4 with a bit of Year 3 and Year 2 thrown in for good measure.

There are new names to remember, routines to establish.

It’s also been the first time in a number of years where I’ve been forming a class from scratch. Previous years I’ve had students I’ve worked together with previously or come into an already established classroom. This time around it’s a fresh class though having taught in the school I’m now teaching siblings of previous students.

Looking back on my previous attempts to make the start of year more awesome some things still remain the same.

Welcome to a new school year video. I find video a fantastic way to set the scene for the year ahead kids.  It is a way to show your personality and in this case introduce the PYP learner profile to the class. It was also a fantastic way to reach out to parents and really shouldn’t every year start with the opening crawl from Star Wars?

Lollypop moments – In 2012 I stumbled onto this awesome TED Talk by a guy called Drew Dudley, who argued that true leadership was in the little every day things that we do to make each others lives better which he called lollypop moments. I used this metaphor throughout the year and I think it really added something special to our classroom culture.  While I won’t be divving out lollypops with as much frequency as I did in the past, the moments will continue to be there. I’m also recording who nominates and who gets nominated as a way to start looking for patterns in the class. Who needs help, who is not being recognised?

Whimsical and fun challenges The BP tech challenges have some fantastic challenges for kids to solve challenges based on supplies commonly found around the school. Building a tower out of marshmallows and uncooked spaghetti is my personal favourite mainly because the kids usually end up eating the marshmallows at the end of it.

Augmented reality tour  Forget the usual school tour. Let the kids loose with an iPad and a list of places to go visit to find the secret clues. Great way to ‘meet’ specialist teachers without having to bother the specialist teachers.

Essential agreement/class treaty  Whatever language having a common understanding of how we all should be treated in the classroom. Show the process of getting there rather than just a nice picture otherwise the words are just classroom wallpaper.

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