It’s the beginning of a new school year! All teachers are getting their rooms and plans for the year ready. Excitement, disbelief summer is over, new ideas, and plans are the buzz on campus. Our little school by the bay looks more amazing than ever. The flexible learning spaces outside of our classrooms, the new butterfly pathway, and the preschool outdoor hangout spot not only amplify the beauty of our school but enhance the mission we set out to live. “We believe that each child is created in the image of God, we exist to educate and inspire our students to lead by example and become forces of good in the world.” Children need to feel safe, be comfortable exploring and wondering, as well as be encouraged to ask questions.
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Day School is ready to carry out our mission and vision for 2021. Teacher work week set the tone for this journey. Our school chaplain opened with a talk about community, teamwork, and how we all are part of one body. The faculty shared in team building and mindfulness exercises to consider everyone’s genius to create goals. Angela Maiers, through her message of Choose2Matter and Liberating Your Genius, coached our faculty and staff on the importance of listening, getting to know one another, and finding out what matters to you. These exercises will find a way into the classrooms this year. One can only imagine what this is going to look like for St. Stephen’s Episcopal Day School. We experienced comradery, emotion, common goals and interests, and more importantly the invaluable experience of listening loudly. It set the tone for the rest of this coming school year.
Besides liberating our genius, we launched Seesaw for Schools. In the summer, our innovation coach, Jenny Diaz, set up our school account. Faculty received the PD webinars offered by Seesaw in the summer and two sessions the innovation team scheduled during our work week. The innovation team is helping to sign parents up during our Back to School Coffees. What a success it is so far! It’s only the eleventh day of school and teachers posted 715 items, and we have 255 comments, 1290 likes, and 505 parent visits in the first week alone.
|The Eleventh Day of School
The initiative promises to be a real world experience, as we encourage our parents to comment on posts to their students’ journals. The ease with which this has gone so far is a contribution to the detailed launching plan by Seesaw. The Seesaw Plan for Success lays out a schedule for how and when to send, plan, or implement different aspects of the program.
Our community will use the commenting feature to give real-time feedback on posts. Students will learn to decide what to post to their journal, be it a picture, movie, drawings, notes, or a link. More importantly, they will experience others interest in their post. They learn that questions or comments might lead to further exploration of a topic. Some people argue we are not providing a real world platform for our students. My opinion is that even though students do not use a real world platform, they learn how to create posts, receive feedback and learn from it, reflect, and see that sharing is caring in this world. They learn how to become digital citizens who know how to synthesize this knowledge in the future
We made a few changes to the way we set up Seesaw. Our special area teachers are co-teachers on the homeroom teachers blogs, and they post items in a folder with their subject area.
In grades four and five we ran into a problem with homeroom blogs. The homeroom teachers in fourth and fifth grade teach either social studies or English to both classes. Also, math and science group their students differently, they are not by homeroom. The way we solved this for this year is that we combined the two different classes to one grade-level blog. Hopefully, this will make the Seesaw experience for all a smooth one.
A delightful anecdote. Our parents are part of our Seesaw community. We invited all parents to sign on at our Back To School Coffees. Parents are extremely excited to have a window into the learning that happens at school on a daily basis. On a Monday morning, a Kindergarten student walked into the classroom, and she was a little bit sad. She mentioned to the teacher that she had not seen her mom a lot over the weekend because she was working. We posted a message on Seesaw, a picture with a voice message. Within 30 minutes Mom replied with a voice message how she loved seeing what her daughter was doing in school, how much she loved her, and how they would see each other later that night. Now the little girl has a BIG smile on her face, and she was a much happier child for the rest of the day! What a magnificent example of how connecting is meaningful.
The purpose of Seesaw is to document learning, for students to reflect on their attempts and accomplishments, and to witness the growth that happens over time. Real-time feedback is significant, and we are looking forward to connecting with others around the world to comment on each other’s blogs.