Friday, August 15, 2008

Orientation 2008

This year I will continue to chronicle a group of teachers at a standards-based school. Last year these teachers were in kindergarten. I was an inclusion Special Education Teacher and Literacy coach assigned to kindergarten. This year many of those teachers have "looped" up with their classes. They take their classes with them to the next grade level, allowing them deep and on-going relationships with children and families. I have continued with my class so I have looped with them to first grade. Of the 12 first grade teachers this year, six of them are looping up from kindergarten. The 12 first grade teachers make up eight classes, four of the classes are co-taught with two teachers in a class and four classes are single teachers. This is the group that I will chronicle this year - an amazing group of first grade teachers that I am proud to call my peers and I am proud to call my friends.
Schools don't have to do an Orientation. It does cut into a teacher's planning time, but at Chets Creek we want to get to know our families so that they can partner with us about their child's education from the very first day. So... today each teacher at Chets Creek hosted an Orientation.

Parents were greeted outside the door with sign-up sheets, such as e-mail addresses, home and cell phones, if they wanted to volunteer in the classroom, if they wanted to be a room mom or if they wanted to bring in a Friday Fun Treat for the class on a Friday. Sheets were neatly arranged with pens and pencils available.

The teachers were prepared for many students to bring their school supplies with labeled bins outside their classrooms, since the list went out in the end-of-the-year report cards. Families are not REQUIRED to bring supplies, but with budgets so tight, it is a real help when parents who are able contribute to the supplies needed for the class. It is not unusual to have several parents buy extra where they find a bargain to make up for parents who have difficulty affording the requested items.

The outside of many classrooms includes writing that the students have done back and forth with their teacher over the summer months. Other bulletin boards include a "something good I know about you" statement. Teachers use the statements that are written by last year's teacher at the end of last year to generate these welcoming bulletin boards. Each child has an object with something good about them written to welcome them into their new classroom and to show proudly to their family.
The tables were decorated with information and a little treat bag for each student. Some classes even offered snacks for the children and parents.

The school theme is "Around the World in 180 Days," but each grade level has been given a different continent and first grade will incorporate Aussie themes by beginning the year with an Australian author, Mem Fox. You can see the theme including the Australian Outback and the Great Barrier Reef all through the first grade classrooms.

Classes were packed for today's "meet and greet" as teachers went through the ABC's of First Grade. Does Orientation make a different to the first grade parents at Chets Creek? You bet it does! They are informed. They are ready to participate. They become fans!

No comments: