Please take a moment to watch the video linked above it will give you a snap shot of our day last Friday. Teach Like a Pirate Day is always a very fun day for students and for staff. The fun and exciting activities, the guest teachers, the costumes, all make it a fun day. But the trade-off is a full day of instruction, so as an educator and a leader in the building I have to ask myself is it worth it, is a day of fun worth giving up our very precious instructional time? As I look back and reflect on our TLAP days over the past three years I can answer a solid yes to that question. We are not giving up a day of instruction we are gaining a day of amazing experiences. I see value in this day on many levels but I wanted to share the top ones with our school community.
The first and most evident reason our TLAP day is valuable is the level of engagement from our students is very high throughout the entire day. Students are so excited for each session, the biggest behavior issue we have is them running to their next session. If you have a chance to spend anytime in a session you hear students digging deep into the subject asking great questions because of their own curiosity. At one point in our session on unmanned ariel vehicles, UAVs, a whole group of students cheered because they figured out what GPS stood for on their own. Anytime we can have students cheering about their classwork it is a win.
The second benefit of TLAP day is promoting student independence. All of our students are taken outside of their normal classroom and mixed in with new classmates and new teachers on TLAP day. Our lower elementary students participate in a class rotation and work with other lower elementary teachers, even this small change in schedule helps our students learn how to advocate for themselves and work with new people. Our upper elementary students are responsible for their entire day. 3rd-6th grade students choose their own schedule from the menu of options and use that schedule to guide their entire day. Upper elementary students have to problem solve if their first choice session is full, if they can not find a classroom, if one of their friends chooses a different session from them, this provides a great opportunity for students to practice independence.
The third, and most important benefit TLAP day provides is RELATIONSHIPS. All of our students work with a variety of teachers from throughout our building getting a chance to meet them and start to build relationships with them. Later on during the school year when they see these teachers in the hall or at a school event they know them and feel more comfortable with them. Our upper elementary students get to mix up with students from different classes and different grades. This brings our students together when they see each other on the playground they have some common experiences to talk about. TLAP day creates connections throughout our entire school community, connections that go far beyond one day.
I am very appreciative of Pinewood’s amazing staff that work to create lessons that all students will enjoy and who welcome all students into their classrooms. I’m also appreciative of all of our parents, everyone is so supportive of TLAP day and help in any way they can. Finally I’m appreciative of our students who jump into the day and fully participate in every session. I’m already looking forward to next year.