‘Working with the whole child’
At Middlesex Middle School last week, teachers broken into color-coded groups to discuss curriculum plans for the 1,168 sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students returning Monday. Each team focuses on the education of about 100 students.
The school’s educational theme for the 2015-2016 school year is “From the Inside Out,” describing an emphasis on teachers working together to find ways to help students learn more effectively based on their personalities, likes and dislikes, along with other factors, Principal Debi Boccanfuso said.
“Whether it is professional development or looking at how we use different tools like the Chromebooks, it takes into account who the kids are,” Boccanfuso said. “We try to connect who they are on the inside and how that plays out in how they learn.”
On the top floor, the Sixth Grade Orange Team, led by teacher Jennifer Giotis, brainstormed ways to use activities to establish a connection with the students, including delving into their basic likes and dislikes for ways to engage them in the classroom.
“If you’re not working with the whole child you’re not doing your best job,” Giotis said.
The most significant issue was a problem with new bus routes that resulted in some students not being picked up, said Brenner, who apologized and said the issue had been resolved completely as of Tuesday.
“I think the first days of school are full of excitement and anticipation and I certainly experienced that as I walked through the buildings,” Brenner said. “Students were smiling at teachers with a twinkle in their eye and there is just a great energy in the air. Things are off to a good start.”
At Hindley School, Tina Tramontano, a Greenwich resident entering her first full year as a fifth-grade teacher, said she was excited to apply techniques involving theater and dramatics as well as technology to improve instruction.
Tramontano served an internship at Ox Ridge Middle School last year, and said she planned to assign her students to use iMovie to create film trailers for books they read.
“I love using technology in classes and it is an activity that has worked out really well and helps students express their thought process in a creative way,” Tramontano said.
Anne O’Connell, a teacher who is returning for her 18th year at Hindley School, was busy Friday trying to organize her first-grade classroom for 22 students, including stocking the library shelves.
“I have some work to do to get ready but right now I just feel excited for the children to come back,” O’Connell said.