Stuck in the Middle: New Kid in Town
September is a wonderful time for educators. We get to start fresh with our new classes and we get to improve on what we did the year before. It is also a great time for students. They have been off for a couple of months and they are eager to get back, maybe not to work, but definitely to see their friends. Learning and socialization are both a big part of why we go to school!
It was exciting to watch the first week on the playground. The students moved around the schoolyard in big packs trying to keep up with each other. At one time, there was a group of 10 grade 8 boys moving in mass across the field trying to decide whether to play soccer or stay cool and keep moving. I smiled as a thought to myself, “The Boys are Back in Town,’ so now ‘I am just spreading the word around” that I think it is going to be a great year. Thin Lizzy might have been talking about our returning students being back, but the Eagles sing about the new students.
In addition to all our returning students and new grade 6’s, we have had a dozen new students join our school community. It is hard to be a new kid in town. Our returning students are just trying to fit in themselves the first week back, so not many people are talking about or worrying about the “New Kid in Town’ yet. But they will be.
Our staff spends a lot of time at the beginning of each year building community and establishing positive relationships with students. Grade 6/7 classes had a massive Pictionary game in the gym last Friday, Monday was our first assembly and the Terry Fox Run brings us all together again. In class, teachers are using social activities and contracts to build safe, friendly learning environments where students all get to know each other well. So I am positive it won't take the new students long to meet friends.
We also have numerous new staff members. Ms. Day, Ms. Forester and Mr. Va’a are new EA’s or IEA’s to our school, Ms. Coppen, Mr. Myer and Ms. Bowes are new teachers and finally, Mr. Newlove, our VP, is in his first year at NSMS.
I was talking with Mr. Newlove last week while we were walking around connecting with the students waiting for the after school buses. One young grade 7 approached us politely, “Hi Mr. Russell how was your summer?” We chatted briefly about our summers before she turned to Mr. Newlove, “And how are you settling in Mr. Newlove?”
Mr. Newlove replied, “Very well,” and then he added, “But thank you for asking.”
As I started to walk back to the office I took the long list of jobs I had for Mr. Newlove and folded carefully and placed it in my pocket. I’ll give it to him in a couple weeks after he has had some more time to settle in.
When we have been in a school or community for a long time we sometimes forget how hard it is to be the new kid, or a new teacher, in town. It sure is comforting when someone reaches out with a friendly smile, hello and welcome. Lucky for all of us we have people like that at North Saanich.
At North Saanich Middle School, we would like to welcome both the “New Kids and Staff in Town.” Building a strong, safe social network of friends is a big part of learning and growing up.