The First 6 Weeks

IMG_4003 copy At DAA, we are celebrating the end of our FIRST SIX WEEKS of school.  Why is the first six weeks so important at DAA? Well, as a community, we spend the first six weeks solely teaching character and building a strong community of leaders.  How do we teach character? We create learning targets that introduce and break down our six habits of character while implementing the responsive classroom and expeditionary learning model.

Before the first six weeks begins, the DAA staff sits together and discusses what a DAA leader looks like, what a strong classroom culture needs for an effective academic climate, and what our mission physically embodies. After the discussion, we review our Habits of Character rubric and gather learning targets to create a Common Core aligned unit that will help us, the teachers, build a strong classroom culture and school community.

During the first six weeks, we play many culture building games, practice routines and procedures that make our classroom run efficiently and effectively, and just learn about each other. We have a discussion about our hopes and dreams for the school year and then we, each classroom crew, create classroom rules that help us to keep our culture full of compassion, perseverance, responsibility, cooperation, curiosity and creativity, and respect; in addition to being safe. This is a time when we promote positive student engagement and belonging. We show students that learning and school is the best thing since sliced bread! AND THEY BELIEVE IT!

Finally, we are in our 7th week of school and I see my kids showing so much compassion and cooperation with their crew mates. I over hear them say, “Sister, can you help me open my banana?” Or, “Lets all hold hands as we walk to the park.”  I can honestly say, taking time to build a positive strong culture in the first six weeks is more important than the academic component of school. Think about it, if no one believes in the mission or goals, if no one can stand being in the same room as one another, and if no one knows how to take care of a space, how can learning happen? How can a teacher be fully present in a room filled with hatred and chaos? How can students take ownership of their learning? They can’t. We can’t.

Live. Learn. Grow.