September 7, 2014
by: Ted Hamm
Well, we have closed our first week of school at IDEAS and Mosaic. It has been a great week!
The first week is always about transitions for students, parents and educators. As a parent, I was transitioning my children’s sleep schedule. As an educator, I was transitioning from a quiet office space to the hustle and bustle of 230+ students in our space. Our transitions, however, go beyond sleep and a quiet office, our transition means building a community.
Building a community is an intentional act, done with thought and care. We started our school days this week in Advisory. We used this time to get to know each other’s names, interests and goals for the school year, as well as, to build identity and group cohesion. One of the goals of our Advisory program is to build a mutually supportive group that can eventually become self-sustaining. This time in the first week builds towards that mutually supportive group dynamic.
During our first week, we also focused on our Habits of Professionalism: Work, Self - Discipline, Communication, Collaboration and Learning. These habits form the basis for much of the non-academic skills that our students strive for. To build these, we look to create foundational experiences for our students; experiences that will give our students pause and something to reflect about. This year we took our IDEAS students to Camp Anokijig on the first two days of school and our Mosaic students on Friday. The purpose of this time was to put our students into team building exercises and then create the space and time for them to reflect on their experience. The reflections included a personal reflection as well as a reflection on their group work. This led to a discussion focused on what they can do to improve their Habits of Professionalism and the learning environment required to do so.
Lastly, we used this time to engage our students in the type of thinking they will be asked to do throughout the remainder of the school year. We refer to them as Habits of Mind which include, Observing, Wondering, Connecting, Reasoning and Innovating, as well as our Culture of Thinking work. For IDEAS, this included what we call Mini Project Week. During this time, students were introduced to our project structure and asked to research, create and present something during the week. Over the course of this week, our students started exploring the theme of “Home”. Our students explored topics related to home including, debt and finances; relationships including domestic abuse and stereotypes within our community; homelessness and poverty; and disharmony in the home. Their task was to create a model or product that represented their research and thinking.
All of this work came together through reflection to build our Declaration of Education; a document that defines our community agreements and what our community aspires to. I will write more about the Declaration of Education in the next week.
As always, if you have questions regarding any of this, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to see photos and and updates about this past week and future events on our IDEAS and Mosaic Facebook Pages.