Site Meter Josh's Blog: First Days of School

Thursday, September 6, 2007

First Days of School

I brought my daughter Eliza to Kindergarten on Tuesday. She attends PS 321 in Brooklyn, a school of 1200 which happens to be the same one my wife attended. She's in a full inclusion class, with 6 students with IEP's and 12 without. My wife and I crowded into the classroom along with the other parents. The teachers were at the door, the room was very organized and ready for learning, and there was a sheet of activities for students to complete to get the students acclimated. I was reminded by this visit of how much time teachers everywhere put in prior to the first day of school.

As of today I've visited about 16 of our schools. I've popped into elementary, middle and high school classrooms. Not surprisingly, most elemntary classes look very similar to my daughter's. In my visits to middle schools I've seen teachers helping 6th grade students open their lockers. I've also seen a lot of review of rules at the middle and high schools. This is, of course, an absolutely necessary part of starting the year - students need to know the structure and the consequences for their behavior. The middle and high school students generally had that well known look of adolescent malaise as they heard the teachers' expectations.

I was also reminded of the maxim that was told to me in the teachers' lounge when I first started teaching - "Don't smile until Christmas." I never understood this saying. As a student I always liked the teachers who smiled and showed their personalities and I worked harder when the teacher mixed interest in me with high expectations. So I disregarded this suggestion and rarely had a discipline problem (I have no idea if the two are connected).

So I'm left with a question - how different are the needs of our elementary, middle and high school students when they come back to school? By the same token, are our needs as adults when we start a new job that different from our needs as kindergartners? We want to enter into a warm environment where we feel supported and we need to know where the bathroom is. I wonder if we explicitly show our middle and high school students our warmth and care for them in the same way we do our elementary students. In my opinion, all our students K-12 need to see it.

1 comment:

Christine said...

Dr. Starr,

Your blog was a little bit of a trip down memory lane. I grew up in Park Slope and went to PS 39 for two years. Does PS 321 still host a weekend flea market? I hope your daughter is having a fabulous time in Kindergarten!

Christine Wheeler