If I had to describe my week at school during February Break, I would compare it to the NYC subway on weekends: the trains run, of course, but there are fewer of them and they go more slowly. I was like an express train making local stops, lingering at every station, and taking my time to cross the city.
I had a few days to think, to take a step back and consider things from a distance – something I rarely get to do when school is in full swing. Obviously, that couldn’t last, children are after all the essence of school life, along with the teachers that guide them. So it was back to business as usual for me on Monday – even though I was a year older than on Sunday – and here I am today, stunned that Friday is already upon us.
The second p’tit-déj (aka Breakfast with the Head) took place in the Maternelle Building this morning. I had the opportunity to hear about – and understand – families’ expectations, problems, and also – thankfully! – their joy and pleasure at being part of The École community. On the menu today, along with coffee and croissants, were homework, the format of the PTCs, the transition to high school after 8th Grade, my plans and vision for our Middle School, teaching children to care about the presentation of their work, the difference between French and American approaches to teaching, the admissions process and new families, standardized testing such as MAP Growth, the learning support system in Elementary, the mentorship program in Middle School, the role of parent reps, and my increasingly rare appearances in Maternelle, which are, unfortunately, giving the impression that I am not as open to the issues that Maternelle families face as I could be.
I never wake up in the morning thinking that I’ve got all the answers. I have a great deal to learn from the feedback I get during these breakfasts and appreciate that they take place in a friendly, laidback atmosphere. Some of the issues that were raised are ones that we are already working on and take up a considerable amount of our time: admissions, the next steps for our Middle School, the transition to high school, and English and French Language and Literacy Support (aka ESL and FLE). Others are ones that are related to the daily life of specific classes, where I have less visibility, others are about choices that have been made and decisions that were taken, which cannot be solved immediately, and others still that need to be acted on and improved upon quickly.
I really enjoyed being able to talk with all the parents who attended today. I hope that in the weeks and months ahead, you will feel happier than ever to be part of The École community, that you will speak glowingly about us to your friends and acquaintances, and that you will want to stay with us until the end of Middle School. It’s the challenge I set myself daily and, to be frank, it sometimes keeps me awake at night (when that happens, I engage in French Wordle battles with my mom – they help me take my mind off things!)
I am passionate about this school, and fascinated by what you feel and have to say about it. This morning I left the p’tit-déj like an express train, rushing to get back to my office, to write this letter, and keep on working to improve your school.