Saturday, August 29, 2015

Celebrate - Being a piece in a great puzzle!

I reported to work on Thursday for the first day of the 2015-16 school year. As a member of the new staff of Discovery ES, I met for the first time all my co-workers. We are the staff of a brand new PreK-5 elementary school in Arlington County, VA. However, we met at Yorktown High School in the auditorium because our building is still awaiting final inspection clearance. The venue didn't thwart our enthusiasm though. ALL are excited about this new adventure and the chance to open a new school and mold it into the best school ever!!

First, in pairs, we met one other staff member, finding out where they taught before and one fun fact. Then in pairs, we introduced that member to the whole big group. Quickly, I realized that I have joined an experienced group of educators - diverse and funny and caring, all with interesting fun facts. Their caring showed when the few 1st year teachers were introduced and we spontaneously clapped ,excited to take these brave souls under our wing as they take their first steps in our profession.

Then Erin, our calm and always upbeat Principal, asked, "Who here is a leader? All hands should be up. All of us are leaders. As we do this next activity, I ask you to do 3 things:
1. Remember that you are a leader
2. Take the puzzle piece I hand you and add your name to it on the front - it is your piece
3. Go to Judy, the AP and she will tell you which of the 5 tables to report to.
That is the only directions you will be given,"

And soon she handed me a piece of paper cut out as a puzzle piece. I added my name along a straight edge and Judy told me to go to the table on the right side of the auditorium stage. When I arrived, that table had a pile of more puzzle pieces and 3 people starting to spread them out.

"Let's find all the outside pieces."
"This one is part of a yellow bird, Anyone see more yellow pieces?"

"This piece has the word SNOW" on it."
"My piece has the definition of SNOW on it!" I replied and soon we were placing these two puzzle pieces together.

"This piece doesn't go with anything on this table. I'm going to see if it goes with another table's puzzle."

Also heard were "My name's Sally. I'm teaching 3rd grade."
"Hi, I'm..."

After 20 minutes with no other instruction then the 3 directions listed above, ALL the puzzles were completed and Erin asked us to sit down to reflect together.

She began, "If we could have been in our building today, at this point in the game, I would send you off on a scavenger hunt to find that FIRST piece of a puzzle that you started with. When you find it, you have also found your ROOM."

Not being able to see my room right then was OK. Instead, there was more time to reflected on this amazing staff I have joined, all leaders. As we reflected out loud, comments included all the ways we acted as leaders. Some very vocal. Some quietly hanging back and watching and then making a move. All working to include all. Al working to reach the goal.

All starting as one puzzle piece.
All now part of this big puzzle called Discovery ES.

I celebrate today this rare opportunity I have this year to start a brand new school!!

So proud to be a Discovery Explorer
In the 3rd grade SNOW classroom
a part of 3rd grade Atmosphere
a part of Kindergarten Neighborhood where someone is in the yellow bird classroom
a part of 1st grade Forest where someone is in the raccoon classroom
a part of 2nd grade Oceans where someone is in the dolphin classroom
a part of 4th grade Solar System where someone is in the planet classroom
a part of 5th grade Galaxy where someone is in the star classroom

Now the place we call HOME!

To learn more about my new school, click HERE


  1. How exciting for you to be starting on this new adventure. Will you use this activity with your students in some way? Good luck with the new school year and working with such a great staff. It sounds wonderful!

    1. Great minds think alike. Yes!!
      I plan to get sets of the pictures and make puzzle pieces to use the first week of school with my class!!

  2. My school moved to a new building years ago & that is the only time we got to be excited in new spaces, but it was a joy to create in it. I love hearing about your beginnings, and hope you'll be there in "Snow" soon, Sally. These beginnings for you all are so thoughtful, good to meet and get to know before you are busy creating in the individual spaces, too.

  3. What a great activity! Enjoy your new classroom and community

  4. Celebrating in school years with you.

  5. What a great way to start thinking of a new school year, in a new building, and with a new team! I can't wait to read about how you settle in and what you do, Sally. Good luck!

  6. It sounds like a wonderful place. So happy for your start this year.

  7. That exercise sounds like a great bonding opportunity. Are you go to use it in your classes?

    1. Great minds think alike!!
      My students Aldo come as one piece of our school puzzle and will be learning about all the different parts of our school together with me. Once puzzles are firmed, I plan to have us then take a walk and find that place in our school!!

  8. Sounds like a wonderful start to a school year and a new school!!! :-) Lots to celebrate.