All of the models, cheers, and traditions of your site, the culture that brings you together with your kids, were honed and developed over the years into something that seems almost natural. Breakthrough DC is just now doing the work of developing that culture and creating spirit traditions. Raymond Orque, a veteran Breakthrough teacher, is on staff there this summer, and helping to make that happen. Read his dispatch below.
Training Week at DC
(To the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”)
“Knowledge, Understanding, Application, Bloom’s Taxonomy! Analysis, Synthesis, Criticism, ooh whee!”
Training week seems like such a blur. From the workshops to teambuilder games, from unit and lesson planning to mock teaching, I am completely exhausted. But I am very excited about the impending arrival of the students – the first group of students at Breakthrough DC! During the week, my fellow five teachers and I covered a great deal of material in a short time. Some of the items we learned included: how to incorporate literacy in all subject areas, how to assess student learning, and how to incorporate Bloom’s Taxonomy and multiple intelligences into lessons. The workshops and activities were definitely exciting and fun! For example, a fellow teacher and I wrote a song to remember Bloom’s Taxonomy (see beginning quote). Overall, I learned a lot of new information that will aid my previous knowledge and experience. Being a small staff, we definitely will be working closely on all aspects of the program, including our lessons. I am eager to see how our lesson plans become actualized. Also, I am excited about co-teaching the newly implemented Spanish elective! Lastly, we had a SBAN picnic towards the end of training week. Interacting with local alumni definitely empowered the teachers. It is amazing to have the support of so many people here in Washington D.C.!
Spirit Hunt Ends the First Week I still cannot believe that Breakthrough DC just finished its first week with the students. This past Monday morning, while waiting for the kids to arrive, I felt extremely nervous. “You’ve done this before,” I told myself, “and you already know what to expect.” However, once I started talking with kids in the gym, I stopped dwelling on my fears.
As the week continued, I put my lesson plans into action. Since I teach all the English classes, I have an opportunity to interact with each student in the classroom. I was truly astounded by the amount of enthusiasm the students brought to the English classroom. They wanted to improve their reading and writing skills and there was a high level of participation in activities and discussions. However, some of the kids could not control their energy on their own. An ongoing goal is to teach them how to put their energy into their work and use it during lunch and other activities. The Spirit Hunt from Friday proved a great way to end the first week. Three teams, each composed of two advisory groups, completed exercises to build team spirit and develop their teamwork skills. My group, the Rockstars, had not shown much unity during the week. They separated into two groups and generally did not talk to each other unless it was necessary. To further complicate matters, several kids were outgoing and two were quiet.
During the Spirit Hunt, the two quiet kids rose to the challenge. A particular scene stands out:
Three of the more outgoing kids read the clue for the next destination. Yet, they did not read it completely and were going to the wrong place. One of the more reserved kids chimed in and exclaimed, “You need to read the entire clue!” The kids were amazed that she stepped up and provided her input. But I already knew that she started to emerge from her shell – she spoke up a lot more in the last English class discussion. After the Spirit Hunt ended, the Rockstars won the awards for Teamwork, Knowledge, Creativity, and Wisdom. They cheered louder than they ever had before (and in unison). The other advisor and I are very proud of them for doing so well at the Spirit Hunt and for showing us that they are a team. Keep it up, and go Rockstars!