I so much enjoy visiting our schools, and Principal for a Day is definitely a favorite. I love to hear the stories from other community members who visit schools, especially when they have an “ah ha” moment and discover something about one of our schools that they never knew. There are many “hidden gems” in our district, but the gem I discovered today was Northwood Middle School.
Starting the day off with a good book sounds like a perfect start to me! The halls were eerily quiet at 7:30 in the morning as Principal Austin Couch and I peeked into classrooms while students read quietly to themselves. The morning reading is new for students, but all students were actively reading a book of their choice, maybe discovering a new passion or enhancing their vocabulary.
As I visit schools, the ongoing theme is students working in small groups or in pairs. Students aren’t always working on the same thing, but are actively engaged in their work. Technology, manipulatives, as well as a variety of mediums bring student learning to life. Every class we stepped into I saw students working with each other as they discovered and created. One class was putting strips of paper with sentences on them in the most logical order to tell a series of events or process. Another class was using M&Ms to learn about probability. They shook the M&Ms and rolled them out on the table 10 times to see how many showed the “M&M” side of the candy coated chocolate. While students were doing this, other students were using the M&M for erosion and other weather-related discoveries by putting the M&M in their mouths to simulate the eroding away of a substance.
Towards the end of my visit, I observed a meeting with the building coaches, a district coach, and the principal. I have only heard about the coaches but never saw them in “action.” Seeing this process unfold brought to life the importance and benefits of having coaches for teachers. The group brainstormed ways to get teachers, many of whom are new to Northwood, to collaborate with each other, explore new methods of teaching, as well as learn about themselves and each other. Being a former teacher, I would have loved to have someone who was always watching over me, someone who was always there to bounce ideas off of, and someone to help me discovery ways of reaching my students. From everything I’ve observed at Northwood and other schools, it appears these coaches are making a difference in what happens in the classroom.
As always, the day ended with a lunch prepared by the culinary arts students at Anthis. This gives those who were “principals” the opportunity to learn from others about what they saw as well as share their own special moments. I’m sure everyone went away from this day excited that Fort Wayne Community Schools is doing great things for young people.