The weather was quite an accurate analogy for our feelings today as we entered day one at Étude Middle School. The day started out cloudy, a bit of rain, and a glimmer of sunshine. Teachers and students alike had feelings of anxiety and worry about how the day would go. Many new students expressed worry that they didn’t know anyone at the school or were afraid to speak up. Returning students worried about the changes within the school and their new advisories. Teachers worried about if the days activities would go as planned and if they would be meaningful for the student. Along with all the worry, however, was a feeling of excitement about what was to come.
As the day moved on, the sun shone more and more both literally and figuratively. Students learned a bit more about their advisees and their advisor in the morning at school, allowing them to feel more comfortable as a group. As we walked to the park together, new friendships began to form between students. The first team building activities were a bit of a struggle, as students reflected, “we struggled to communicate as a group” or “sometimes we were being too silly” or, “everyone would try to share ideas at once”. As the day went on students reflected on these struggles and began to communicate more effectively. Some reflected, “we came up with a plan, and that helped everyone be on the same page” or, “each person began to participate, so as a group we were more effective”. It was a true joy to watch students grow in collaboration and communication skills from the first to the last activity of the day.
When we arrived back at school, we gathered in a town hall to do some whole group reflection. It was amazing to see that almost every student had met a new friend today. In addition, each advisory shared a struggle and a success, noting that every advisory felt they worked better as a team as the day went on. We ended our town hall with students sharing positive or helpful things they had observed others doing throughout the day. Positive things such as “I was struggling with my lock and someone helped me open it”, “a student helped us complete our puzzle when we were struggling”, “I was new and this student helped introduce me to more people”, or, “when I didn’t understand a direction, the student didn’t put me down rather explained it another way”. We challenged the students to remember these reflections as the week and the year progresses and try to be the person who does a positive or helpful thing for someone else. At the end of the day we recognized that regardless of our past, new students, returning students, new teachers, and returning teachers, now all make up our Étude Middle School Community for the 2019-20 school year. With all of the growth and positivity emerging out of day one, we cannot wait to see what great things will come from our Étude Middle School Community this year.