There is no such thing as a strong school without a strong faculty. Together, we are always learning, reflecting, and challenging each other; this collegiality is a gift for which we thank God. Through such collegiality, our faculty engage in many conversations and learning opportunities together. Throughout the year, faculty sometimes discuss the idea of "going rogue" or pedagogical experimentation, which is not only fun but also a mark that we are always learning and refining our work.
In light of this, we decided to experiment as a faculty and enact a teacher swap day, in which Lower School teachers literally swapped placed with Upper School teachers. While it's fun for the students, doing this will work towards a few goals for our faculty:
- a deepened understanding of the school (Lower School vs. Upper School) they taught in
- a chance to celebrate and acknowledge the dedication and intensity that is any full time faculty job at Immanuel
- a time to intentionally reflect on classroom routines, culture, and habits
It opens to the door to a lot of interesting observations: for example, Upper School teachers note how much energy and planning goes into the Lower School classes in which children are clamoring for constant conversation and movement. Lower School faculty have highly intense teaching hours while Upper School faculty have somewhat less intense teaching hours (students are more independent as they mature) but more intense grading time. One item to note is how much a teacher is doing at any given moment, sometimes without even thinking: faculty build incredible psychological economy in enacting classroom routines and procedures that they don't even think about; when a new teacher enters the classroom, it becomes clear how much intentionality and time has gone into developing relationships with students, habits, memorizing prayers together, and all the quirky little traditions a teacher develops with their students.
After school , teachers met with their "swap buddy" to discuss some of the following questions:
- When do you get to work and when do you leave? What are your pre- school rituals?
- How much time do you spend on grading a week?
- What's one of your favorite classroom liturgies (routines and traditions)?
- How have you most grown as a teacher this year?
- What's your favorite memory from this year?
- How do you build relationships with students?
This afternoon, faculty have dedicated time after school for a small gathering and opportunity to discuss our reflections corporately. They will even prepare toasts for their swap buddy and celebrate the labor and excellence that has gone into each teacher's year of work. Why do we take time to do this? To continue learning and encouraging each other. In some ways, teaching is comparable to being a sieve - it is at once constant draining and constant pouring out, and requires much re-filling.
Has anything stood out to you about the work of your child's teacher this year? Please share an email with them, or thank God in prayer for their love and shepherding of your child!