Every two weeks I will post a blog that relates to the amazing teaching and learning at Roland Park Country School. My musings will touch mainly on the Lower School and our Early Childhood Learners or Little Reds. My hope is to share the story of our year and to inspire conversations at home. Many posts will also include links to articles, other blog posts, or TED talks that delve further into the topic.
Why “Puddle Jumping” as a name? It is suggestive of the joy and freedom experienced in childhood- may it stay with our little “Reds” forever!
The start of a new school year can bring feelings of anticipation but also apprehension for our children. So, too, are these mixed feelings a part of the teacher experience. Most teachers have enjoyed time away from the school setting, and even if they are involved in school-related experiences, the routines and expectations are different. August brings so much “new”. Some will argue that it is more representative of a New Year than January. This August, “new” means something very close to home for me. I am starting a new career as Lower School Head at Roland Park Country School- a school that is still unfamiliar and with many individuals whose names I am just starting to learn. Anticipation and anxious feelings abound.
As I put myself in the place of other new RPCS teachers and the many teachers that are embarking on new assignments on my team, I thought that the ideal setting to start the year would be a faculty retreat. For years I helped organize team building trips for groups of middle school students. They used the many activities to bring a sense of unity and community to their class. Tearful exchanges of promised friendships and new memories were voiced as sticks were tossed into the final campfire. While I was not anticipating tears or songs around a campfire, I was hoping for experiences that are self-reflective or build empathy. Somehow, we were lucky enough to have the most glorious day of the summer for our retreat day in Annapolis. The weather was picture perfect. Just being by the water on such a lovely August day could have been inspiring enough to forge new relationships and build lasting memories! Our activities and the ensuing exchanges proved once again that the RPCS teachers I have the privilege to work with are creative, sensitive, and devoted to their craft. The day began with teachers writing hopes and dreams for the school year followed by a discussion of how these ideas on post-it notes could become realities with the help of one another. I was reminded of one of our RPCS pillars- Building Each Other Up. That is a clear goal of our teacher as well. Note the photographs below of some “ideal classrooms” captured after a group activity that provoked conversation around classrooms that incorporate the outdoors, student movement, flexible seating, and carefully selected color schemes and lighting. Pipe-dreams? Hopefully not! The day ended with a relaxing sail aboard the Schooner Woodwind. Teachers were able to relax together, start new relationships, or experience an activity that was brand new and out of their comfort zone. (Sounds like something we want for our students as well.)
As I reflected on the day, and the teachers that your children will have guiding them through the school year, I remembered a quote about teachers found on writer Adam Grant’s Twitter feed:
Good teachers introduce new thoughts.
Great teachers introduce new ways of thinking.
Good teachers care about their subjects.
Great teachers care about their students.
Good teachers teach us what they know.
Great teachers teach us how to learn.
Your children’s teachers truly strive for “great”!