As teachers prepare to start a new year, many create a theme that will connect the students and develop a community for the students. I always had a theme for the advisory, the choirs, and later the reflective. However it was never presented to the students or decided upon before they came into the classroom on the first day.
The slate was clean. I did not demand that they create a “name” or theme on the first day. We would have a name, dress for our picture and that it would from our experience within classroom. The name would just happen. Some of the themes revolved around current events, in 2001, it was red, white, and blue.
By getting everyone on board and it was no longer “Mrs. Broos’s advisory,” “My advisory,” or “My reflective,” it was a name or saying. I was no longer the leader, but part of the group. Teachers would come in during the class time and say, “I want this is my classroom, how did you do it?” Smiling, I’d say, “I gave over leadership and empowered the group, it’s not my group but the “__________.”
This year’s reflective was a model of how to create a caring community around a basic theme. The challenge was that I would be gone at ISTE during their three days of team building. I would only have a ninety minutes on the first day to set the direction. The team building directors would have to allow the name and theme to appear. Luckily, they were my friends and understood their charge. Then again, the theme/name might not happen during their time with the group, so I would have to develop the subject upon my return. Luckily, the name came out in the second day and now the push to for me to feel apart of group was my mission.
The “Totally Peacocks,” was born and the Carol Broos Reflective name was gone. We all were equal partners and shared equally in the discussions and direction of the reflective period. “Can I…,” was replaced with “Can we…”
Using a google form, we listed words that described the group. I then put up tagxedo on the screen, asked the group what design, font, and color the group would like. Never voting on the decisions, but allowing for a consensus, so everyone had to agree. Also, individuals got to pick their favorite color, if they wanted the same color that was allowed. So who really cares that three people picked pink? It was their favorite color. I went home, created an individual sheet for each person on the computer so they could iron it on for their t-shirts. Allowing them to pick where they wanted to put the logos and how to cut the t-shirt. They used fabric markers to add more ‘bling” and creativity.
In tagxedo create a screenshot, open it in preview, export as a .png, then flip it backwards, so it prints backwards to be ironed on the t-shirt. Of course, I involved the two team leaders that were part of the original group and invited them back in order for the group to present the shirts to them.
Environment of Create
Taking pictures of all activities including the creation of our t-shirts (with music blaring in the background) set the tone for the rest of the time together. Students picked the music from Pandora, then started singing along, Soon, we had a “reflective” song. Everything was falling into place.
Pictures to Movie
Group pictures, presents, and the presentation of peacock feathers was the final activity. To see and feel the connectedness is something everyone in the “Totally Peacocks” will never forget. Create a movie using all the pictures to share out and create memories to last forever.
Let it Happen
So as you prepare to go back to school, consider not making a theme for your group before you meet as a group, let it happen. Yes, it’s scary and you won’t have the theme up in time for open house. But, by creating a shared vision and purpose, you have created memories and the feeling of belong, not a cute saying or color. That’s what education is all about, connecting and belonging, then the learning and creating will flourish.
Anais, Andrew, Arthur, Bianca, Carol, Diana, Ellie, Heather, Ivan, Ixtel, Jolene, Jordan, Joseph, Sara, Timothy