Monday, September 6, 2010

First Day of School Jitters

I have a cold. It woke me up twice last night and is mixing and stewing with my new-school-year anxiety nicely. I think it might be making some sort of horrible jam. Or jelly.

Last Friday I went in to school for a staff meeting with the new Head Mistress. The topic was "excellence" and there was a lot of potential for it to be cheesy, but it wasn't. We were put into small groups and given time to talk about some event in our lives that was excellent. My table had trouble coming up with things because we didn't want to brag, we weren't allowed to use an example that was school related, and also- sharing? With people that you don't really know? Not always the easiest thing. We eventually ended up with some cool stories though. It's always nice to learn more about your co-workers beyond "they teach Year 1."

We were then given large pieces of paper and time to come up with a list of 5 things that are excellent about the school. Selling points, really. After that all the staff got up and looked at all of the lists. They were very similar- there were only about 10 unique points out of the 8 tables worth of lists. It was unifying in a way to realize that we all appreciated the same things within the institution.

Next came the list of things that could be improved...there were many more points on this but still a remarkable amount of unity. It felt good to know that even in terms of things we wish could change- by and large we were on the same page. (Can I also say how nice it was as an adjunct teacher to be able to participate in this? I felt included.)

Finally we were re-grouped from our small groups into our working groups (i.e., early years together, key stage 1 together, and key stage 2 together) to discuss which of the "things to be improved" WE could actually do something about. What is actually within our power to change. I just love team brainstorming like this. So much fun.

I was impressed with the new Head Mistress. She seems capable, competent, and like she will actually do what she says she will. It also seems like it will be much more difficult,... finesse the system. Which is probably a good thing. She is also clear that the school is a business, which makes for fascinating comments about how the school is advertised and also the charge to consider what it is that each of us, individually and uniquely, brings to the school.

I still have the same jobs as last Autumn, both the tykes and the French school- but the scheduling and timing has been splayed out across the week so now I have an hour on Monday, half a day in the morning followed by an hour in the late afternoon on Tuesdays, and *hopefully* a whole day on Wednesday though currently there is a pesky three and a half hour gap in the afternoon that would be frustrating not to get paid for since clearly I'll still be in school and doing work during that time.

In any case my classes kick off tomorrow morning with the littlest of the tykes getting their first music lesson of the year. I'm nervous. Not that I'm unclear about what to teach them, but because I am worried about starting off in a good manner so as to encourage good behaviour during my class throughout the year and also so as to not frighten the new ones. Some of the smallest tykes will only have been in school for 2 days at this point and may be as young as two-and-a-half.

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