Sunday, September 25, 2011

Office Closed - K-2 For the Day. #NoOfficeDay

Last week was International No Office Day for principals around the world (well, at least a few of us). Shira Leibowitz started a wiki for those of us involved. Here is my experience.

So I decided to start by asking the K-2 teachers to schedule me for the day on Wednesday, September 14. principalj does a great job telling how we each explained the day to the staff.

My day started with a few minutes in my office to put my things down. Then off I went.

Here is my schedule for the day with some notes thrown in for good measure.

7:45-9:15 Kindergarten

  • Some students were at breakfast, some still filtering in. I tried to engage 'Bill' to no avail until the teacher suggested that we use the blocks. Things took off from there. We built towers that hardly stood long enough to admire. When some other boys arrived, I referee'd the use and temporary ownership of the blocks. For a few minutes, I talked with some other students as they were drawing.
  • Once everyone arrived, the teacher began the morning meeting. She reviewed the calendar before singing the good morning song.
  • From there we moved onto a Fundations lesson introducing three letters. While not surprising, I was awed at the sheer breadth of student readiness and the teacher's ability to work with 15 squirmy five-year-olds.
School was only 75-minutes old, and I was already a bit tired.

9:15-10:45 1st Grade

  • The first grade class was wrapping up a math lesson when I arrived. I wandered from kid to kid helping with writing number sentences and their turn-around equations. It was exciting to watch one student that I know in a disciplinary sort of way work on the math and really get it.
  • At this point, the teacher asked me to participate in the next lesson as a student, not an educator. She asked me to sit between two kids that struggle with letters. We began the Fundations lesson by reviewing the letters covered the day before. At this point, many kids started getting pretty excited about the activity to come. The teacher had Baby Echo come out to help kids practice the sound of certain letters. Then, we all became skywriters. Cool, I love planes. We worked on tracing the letters in the air to help us learn the shapes.

2 hours, 45 minutes into the day: I was really tired.

11:00-12:00 2nd Grade

  • The second grade teacher had asked me a few days earlier to teach a lesson so she could finish some assessments with a couple of students. So, I entered the room armed with the National Geographic Weekly Reader from May about butterflies, my iPad, and three different worksheets from the Reader teacher's guide. Just then, one student and the teacher looked at a book about bugs and declared that it was wrong. There was an error in a book! Goodness! The teacher grabbed the moment and told kids that they would need to write to the publisher to point out the error. Nice.
  • So, I scrapped half of my lesson right there on the spot. Once the teacher left, I turned on the document camera, fired up the iPad, and searched for info about monarch caterpillars to double check the error in that book. We found tons of fantastic images and information and still the book looked wrong. We also found some really fugly caterpillars.

40 minutes, many butterfly facts, and tons of informational-text-features later, I was pooped.

12:00-1:00 Lunch, Recess

  • I admit that I cheated slightly here. I spent about 15 minutes at my desk before joining the kids for lunch. I have eaten lunch with the students many times already this year so I think it is ok.

1:00-1:20 2nd Grade

  • After Lunch/Recess, I hung out with 2nd grade again and listened to the teacher read to the class. I love to be read to.

My original schedule from this point on was:

  • 1:20-1:50 PE w/ 1st
  • 1:50-2:20 Music w/ 1st
  • 2:20-2:50 PE w/ 2nd

Instead, the librarian was out so we needed someone to cover three, thirty minute library read-aloud sessions. OK, I am your man. Turns out that K, 1, 2 students can get a little wiggly towards the end of the day. Who knew?

Between managing the group, I was able to read a few pages of a book to each class. They tested my patience and I passed the test!

I have been an administrator since 2003, I know what means to have a long, busy day. That said, I am in awe of the staff who do this with primary grade students day in and day out. I learned (re-learned?) that I am one of the luckiest principals in the world. I have a small, safe school with an amazing, dedicated, high-endurance faculty.