Every new school year brings about excitement, anticipation, and worry for our students and families. The first day of school this year was no different. Rochester students filled the halls of our many classrooms and were greeted by their friends and school staff. When we think about the first day of school, many of us think about how exciting a new year will be. We often think about our hopes and dreams. We start to plan on how we want our students to make great gains academically and create lasting relationships with their peers and teachers.
However, for many of our students and their families, the first day of school brings about anxiety, fear and uncertainty for what a new school year will bring. When our students leave us in the spring for a fun filled summer, often times they go home to uncertain circumstances. Family situations can change and unexpected life events occur which can create hidden challenges for our students. As we get to know our students and families each year it can take weeks and even months to understand the complicated lives of our students and the impact it is having on them every day at school.
This year the staff at Bishop Elementary School piloted a new way to start the school year in an effort to not only meet the social/emotional needs but the academic needs of their students. Rather than holding a large Meet the Teacher event in the school, Bishop teachers, after a year of research and planning, held conferences on the first two days of school. Each family was given a 30 minute conference time with their classroom teacher. Generally, the first part of that conference was an opportunity for families to share meaningful information with the teacher about their dreams for the child in the coming year. After gaining information from the parents, the teacher was able to meet one-on-one in the quiet of the room to assess the student academically. Fast forward to the first day of school and our teachers had more of the information they needed to start the year.
They now know the challenges and joys that the children face at home, they hold a clearer picture of who the child is academically and they have already started the important journey of forming a relationship with the family and student.
This post brought to you by Kate Palmquist, Elementary Principal on Special Assignment
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