I had a great day at my new school yesterday. The purpose of the day was made quite clear, just to get to know each other and learn a bit about the school. If there was time some business could be done. We arrived to coffee in the staff room, in a small cottage a bit away from the school buildings, and then started the day. I came into a room where we were clearly in teams, with different coloured notebooks on the tables with names on each. A bit of mix and match is always good, with some new staff and some continuing staff on each table. As the school is both primary and secondary there was a mix of teachers also on each table. So far, so good. Not very special.
But the specialness came when the principal started to talk about the school: I loved that he emphasised flexibility and adaptability and that at the school we celebrate mistakes as learning opportunities. I have always believed this myself. I hate the students using correction fluid on their work. It is great that the students can see the learning, as they think of a better way to spell that tricky word or a more elegant or accurate way to phrase that sentence. And the students have been known to say “But the crossing out makes it messy” and I say “But learning IS messy”. Anyway, I love that philosophy. Another stance I really like is that expectations are made clear, in order to reduce anxiety in the learners. It is this reasoning that I like so much. I know that better learning can occur when there is less anxiety. So I felt reassured that in these ways at least I would like my new school.
Then the getting to know you part. We were given 45 minutes to put together a presentation of some sort that involved ICT (there are IWBs available in each room and each teacher is given a laptop) and that informed the rest of the staff about the group members. It was hilarious. There were powerpoints, games that involved the response systems, and click and drag quizzes. Not surprisingly each group member got to know quite a lot about each other.
In the afternoon we were able to think of equipment we will need for next year. I would like to order some flip cameras, a few mobile phones (learning from Jess McCulloch) and some headsets (for Voicethread and podcasts etc) to get ourselves set up for some creative learning in English. I also loved the fact that there is an active community program at the school, which I can’t wait to find out more about. One idea I have is to have the Year 7s, when they study poetry in Term 4, to make illustrated anthologies for particular audiences, maybe residents of a senior citizens home for one audience, and students in the lower primary school for another. This would help students consider the importance of audience, the suitability of themes and language, and the impact of illustrations or ways of presenting the poetry. Anyway it’s just an idea and I don’t know if it is even possible but I did get the feeling that it just might be, along with other creative and energising things.