A New School Year Begins – September 2019
One of the special things about being an educator or a student is that every year, we have the opportunity to start anew. What other occupation has this advantage? Everyone returns rested, excited and perhaps a little anxious as a new school year begins.
And so it has been at Villa Maria during the last weeks. Teachers arrived a week before the children and were busy taking part in professional development activities, meeting new faculty members, reading student files, and preparing classrooms for their students. Special support was provided for new members of our faculty and staff and new friendships and the process of bonding began. The work we do at Villa Maria takes full commitment and dedication to our students. It cannot be done in isolation so feeling a part of the larger community and all the resources available is so important.
It is always amazing to me how quickly children acclimate to the routines of school, the new classroom expectations, their teachers, and the students they will grow and learn with during this school year.
I have enjoyed spending time in classrooms seeing our teachers and support staff begin to work with their new students, while making them feel comfortable as they ease back into school. The first weeks are ones during which they are getting to know students on a personal level, assessing their skills, and beginning to understand them as learners. While visiting one class, one of our Upper School students was completing a math assessment and had a look of concern on his face. I asked him what was wrong and he shared that he knew he was taught long division last year, but had totally forgotten the steps. I reassured him that this happens to everyone, but the good news was that once you learn something the first time, relearning it will be far easier and he will soon remember the steps with the help of his teacher. I could say this with confidence, as I knew that with our skilled teachers and small classes, he would soon have the individual attention he needed to successfully relearn this process. It is not unusual to need repetitions in learning new concepts and processes, and for our population of students, we expect them to return to what they have learned previously, but not mastered, as many times as needed until they become a part of a child’s learning repertoire. It struck me how wonderful it was that this boy could express his concerns and reveal a struggle without worrying that someone would make fun of him or express surprise at his memory lapse on something he learned previously. So many of our students have come from learning settings where they hid such problems from their teachers and fellow students to avoid embarrassment.
A new year begins at Villa Maria and along with establishing routines and assessing students; we will be ensuring that every student understands that in this school, revealing weaknesses one has as a learner will be celebrated. Realizing that this is a risk free learning environment will make all the difference in becoming a successful student!