Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A BBQ and a Walk About Town...

I teach at a school that is big on traditions. As a matter of fact, when I started there last year and went to the new teacher training, an entire hour was spent just teaching all us newbies about the many traditions at our new school. Throughout the year I will probably post about all of them, but today I am going to focus on the traditions that begin before the year even does

Fifth Grade Back-to-School Kick-Off bbq

Every year about a week before school starts, my team teacher and I throw a big bbq (at her house, of course- mine is WAY too small). We invite all of our incoming fifth graders and their parents. We have burgers and hot dogs, play games, and get to know each other. The best part is that we invite the kids on the last day of school, so they have all summer to be excited about it. Each kid brings something, and we do it pot-luck style, so Kathy and I spend next to nothing for an awesome evening of fun and memory making.

Of course, it took about 5 minutes for this group of girls to kick my volleyball over the fence! And being the princesses they are, they stood and stared at it while one of the boys climbed over!

If you look closely at this picture, you will see my husband's red head peeking out over all the rest. He always endures these activities, and he always gets put on "tend to the kids while we talk to parents" duty! He really is worthy of the Husband-of-the-year award!

And what back-to-school event would be complete without a parent pow-wow? This is my team teacher and I filling parents in on what to expect come next year. I really didn't stand there with my finger in my mouth the whole time- I talked, too. My husband just has really poor timing. LOL!

I love this tradition, because by the time Back-to-School Night, Parent Information Night, and the first day of school roll around, I have already gotten to know my kids a bit, I can put faces with names, I know who is friends with who, and I've met most of the parents. For these reasons, the first day of school starts more smoothly, because parents aren't meeting me for the first time, and they don't hang around to ask me a lot of questions. They drop their kids off, head to work, and we start the day right on time!


Another tradition we have at our school, is one we call "Walk-Abouts." For this one, we actually drive into the neighborhoods where our students live. We are a school of choice in our district, so we have kids from all over town, so we have to split this activity between two nights to get all the neigborhoods in. What we do when we get there is exactly what it sounds like we do:

We all march in a huge group into each neighborhood.

We start going around to houses and calling kids out. We usually only knock on one or two doors before the other kids in the neighborhood know we're there. Then we have a street full of kids coming to see us!

While we're there we also have fun with the kids. This is a picture of two teachers and a student who all traded their flip flops around!

And we always end up with a tour guide-usually with wheels- who voluteers to go around the neighborhood with us and point out all the houses where the kids live.

The most imporant thing we do during this trip is let the kids know that we love them, and that we are excited to see them when school starts. This is a really good way to get kids excited about the fresh school year, welcome new families to our school family, allow new students to meet their teachers, and let the kids know that we are thinking about them before the school year even gets under way.

So there you have it! Two awesome traditions that we have at my school. They both require a little more time on our parts to accomplish, but the benefit of the environment it creates for us as a school and a community of learners is totally worth it.


Our Home Schooler and Jen said...

sounds like a good and interesting school to be at

Lynne said...

I love these traditions. You obviously teach at a school that's concerned about its kids. So many schools and teachers are just doing time, waiting for the final bell to ring.

Barb said...

You know, when you and Aaron move back to Grand Junction next year and you start teaching at a new school, if they don't do both these things, I hope you will try to initiate it. Both are just a great way to meet the kids and their parents in an informal setting.

Your fifth graders are lucky. I remember the first day of every new school year being scary. I'll bet YOUR students actually look forward to it.

Aaron is a gem. He's such a good sport about all this. I'll bet the kids love him.


Tracey said...

What a great idea! I love this!

Gretchen said...

Mandy, I know you're excited to move back to the western slope, but it sure looks like you've become part of an amazing community. Those kids are so blessed to have you and your caring co-workers.

Our kids have a new-student pot luck tonight at their school, and I'm touched that there is such a thing. We'll also be matched with mentors for David and Drama Girl. It's hard to move schools in 5th and 7th grade, and these folks are so welcoming.

P.S. Aaron is a keeper. :)

Dawn said...

Sounds like you landed in a really good place! I'm impressed.

Michelle said...

Those are awesome things you guys are all doing. I wish the schools my kids have been in had done things like that. I have had so many problems with their school, that this year I have decided to home school. (Technically an online charter school)

Do you live in a small, everyone knows everyone, kind of town, or are these things that the school has just gone out of their way to make happen?

Nana Trish is Living the Dream said...

First time visitor. Your mom sent me over. Great post. Why can't more teachers go the extra mile? These traditions sound like something that is so warm and friendly that it's hard to believe everyone can't take the time to make the extra effort. I will be back. I'm anxious to hear about the rest of the school year.