Back to School
On the first day
we put on our new school shoes
travelling back to the future
knowing our desks soar like jets and
pencils swim like dolphins.
The first time we hear the bell
we see our teacher wears a cape,
super smiles and high fives among
line-ups and hooks with our names
beyond this classroom
on the moon.
We sit quietly not on a carpet or in a chair
but on a massive drawbridge
between the forest and the castle
waiting for a glimpse of a dragon or a knight
or to be invited to study with a wizard.
At lunch we eat small bites out of boxes
bouncing to go outside to a jungle
and run with tigers
giggle with hyenas and jump with frogs.
We learn to count the days with robots
(not the boring kind)
our robots code the world
and we will use them to change the world
And: You. Will. Change. The. World.
We ride unicorns in the afternoon
our thinking and creativity and compassion
unrestrained and generous.
We learn outside of walls and boundaries
guided by curious questions and wonder
full of possibility.
Tonight when your parents ask
what did you learn at school today?
You can say:
we saved a life
we created a planet
we sang and danced beside giants
we jumped into the centre of the puzzle
and found algebraic patterns
in the photosynthesis of numbers
converting our spunky energy
into brainy energy that will be released in time
or you will humbly say
© Jessica Outram
A Poem Inspired by Learning Together
We tell a story about a mother who is seventy-four
and a daughter who is forty-nine,
adding up time and
along the line between them.
We share an open array of numbers,
imagining parts and wholes,
our strategies exposed by quantities
of numbers decomposing and
constant relationships in our minds
–before even holding a pencil.
Hand over heart we tap
until we see a place
in a string of familiar anchors
and friendly landmarks.
We can count back to see the value, partial
products of flexibility now.
Voices of facts and concepts
and ways to solve
burst with numerate enthusiasm
and joy, seeing how the teacher
draws our thoughts
together on a whiteboard.
We gasp at its simple magnitude.
© Jessica Outram
My dream this year is to be a more intentional leader. When I first became a principal my focus was a lot like a lighthouse, moving in every direction as far as I could see, scanning for anything in dire need of my attention. Then it shifted to a stage spotlight. My work was more intentional, more focused, but it moved to follow the action. Now I want a laser-like focus. It’s my fourth year. I feel ready to try and shift my planning “from time management to priority management.” (Dr. Greg Wells taught us that. He has been working with our administrator group since August.) I feel ready to be more strategic.
Last year we embarked on a whole school inquiry inspired by Chris Hadfield’s book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.
I’ve written two other blog posts about this:
- Our Students are Learning Like Astronauts
- Building a Learning Culture Through a Whole School Inquiry
Do your students want to go to space?
We have been having a blast this year learning like an astronaut. In the fall, I launched a program designed to engage the whole school in exploring 21st Century learning skills. We called it “Learning like an Astronaut.” For one school year we are trying to answer this question: “If we were going to learn like an astronaut, what would we need to do?”
We are officially hooked on space! Our first challenge in our Learning Like an Astronaut project was to design a fitness test. We had full participation–every class delivered amazing entries with all students participating.
The Grade 5/6 class requested a music lesson but the teacher wanted to challenge me a bit more and push me out of my comfort zone. So last week I taught my first science lesson! The assigned topic: biodiversity.