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September 4, 2018
by: Courtney Kissinger

Building Community at Étude Middle School

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Today, we welcomed students back to Étude Middle School. When staff reminisced during pre-session about our own first days of school, we remembered receiving syllabi and writing our name in textbooks.  We were excited about the opportunities our students would get on the first day to build their community while developing collaboration and communication skills. We, like most of the students, were new to the opportunities and challenges presenting themselves and hoped the day of activities would be a success. As a school community, both staff and students accepted today’s adventure and wanted to share some of the things we learned throughout the day.

After getting acquainted in advisory this morning, students walked to Kiwanis Park with their advisory and attempted a series of team building challenges. Each challenge was a bit different, but each had a specific goal that the advisory or pair of advisories needed to accomplish. In the Marble Luge Activity for example, the advisory had to get the marble to travel from one cone to the other, several yards apart, using different sized pieces of PVC pipe. Each member had one piece, and every piece had to be used to get the marble to the other end. While this activity created many challenges, the students had some enlightening reflections about teamwork. One student stated that “the activity helped me to make sure I listen to everyone's’ ideas” while others noted that “In this activity, everyone HAD to participate. Since everyone participated, we had better energy as a group and were able to accomplish the goal more quickly than in some of the other challenges.”  These are just a few examples of great reflections that students will take into consideration as we enter the school year, which is full of challenges and collaborative opportunities ahead.

Was it hot? Yes! Were there frustrating points? Most definitely, as always when stuck in a challenge. More importantly, however, were the take aways that some of our students shared for a ticket out after returning to school. One student reflected on the importance of our Habits of Learning by sharing, “If you don’t succeed at something the first time, keep practicing with an open mind and you WILL succeed because practice helped us progress and become successful.” Another student touched on the importance of our Habits of Collaboration by stating, “Collaboration works when you take as many ideas as you can into consideration, discuss the possible outcomes, and create one thought as a group.” While these reflections are core to the Habits of Professionalism we strive to instill in our students, it was also great to hear from sixth grade students, “I was scared to come to middle school before today, but this was the best first day of school I ever had!”

As you can see, we all had an eye opening day, were happy to get to know our new students and  created a positive start to building the culture we want to achieve for the 2018-19 school year. We look forward to the other activities we have planned and encourage you to check back in for more updates about seminar selection, Town Hall, and Maker Time all happening later this week.


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