The teachers are back to work at Opal School this week, getting environments ready, cracking open big ideas, and imagining possibilities in anticipation of the children arriving on Tuesday.
The primary team began our work together this year by sharing our excitement: things that each one of us was looking forward to exploring with children this year. As teacher-researchers, we start there because we know it matters that we are genuinely curious and interested in the kinds of questions and ideas we explore together with the children. All year, we’ll be aiming to remain in that sweet spot where our interests, curiosities, and questions meet up with the children’s.
Next, we began thinking about the relationship between that excitement and the big idea we knew we’d be exploring this year. The primary community will be diving into the study of self. Asking questions is a practice that our work as teacher-researchers depends on, so we began by asking questions in relationship to that big idea. We paused to read Teaching Tolerance’s Social Justice Standards and then came back and added more questions to our list with that lens in mind.
Then, we cracked open some of the big understandings that we feel young children have a right to explore that live inside “the study of self.” We shared resources that would extend our understanding of those big ideas (including a favorite book, a TED talk on the neuroscience of emotion, and documentation on past Opal School projects) as well as resources for use in the classroom (including a huge list of possible picture books, materials possibilities, thinking routines, games, and potential provocations). We are letting these early experiences guide our attention as we finish setting up classrooms and start planning experiences for the first week of school. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be developing letters of intention – that we’ll share with you here.
Reader, what do you do to get ready for children to arrive? What guides your practice as you imagine possibilities for the new year ahead?