In theory, it sounds like a great idea. Instead of jumping right into a new year, we have a staff retreat day on our first day all back together. We meet somewhere that is NOT our school building, and spend the day catching up and doing some housekeeping and what-have-you. A workshop day that is fun.. is the intention. Usually, this is what happens on the first day back after summer break. We go over big issue-items, do some team building. Enjoy each others company. But not this year.
Oh sure, we met at a new place (local farm, I have a funny story to tell you about that rooster in a minute).. and spent the first half-hourish socializing and chatting with friends. Every other year or so we do a "who traveled the furthest" type of activity that has all all lined up (In a circle) by distance traveled and then we tell where we went and highlights of our summer... so we did that.
And then we got right into what would be the theme of the day.. heated debate and disagreement. See, we ended the last year on several negative notes. We didn't make AYP(adequate yearly progress) according to no-child-left-behind standards (thanks Dubya).. due in fact to the low socioeconomic disadvantage of a lot of our kids. (poor kids are dumb in plain talk). I think I blogged about this already. Click here. We also had a huge safety inspection with the insurance people and have a ginormous list of things we need to address. This caused heated debate last year, and we ran out of time to get into it again. Also on the hot seat, were the new state standards for health and well-being of students. Basically no more treats/candy/junk food at school/parties/etc.. and you can't punish kids by keeping them in for recess. Oh, and did I mention that if you don't do your homework, you can't be kept in for recess either. And if you can't stay after school to make it up.. well... then I guess we'll fail you. In second grade. Why not. I'm ugly about all this as it is... so we won't talk about the heated arguments we had. Clearly not the community building day it normally is. Way to start the year.
So let me tell you a funny little story. We started out with the AYP business, and what we were going to work on in order to address that... and after 3 stressful hours we broke for lunch. The farm we were at has lots of trails and views and hiking, but being I have a sprained ankle.. I couldn't go far. So right outside the building we were in was a small animal barn. I watched the chickens/roosters/ducks for a bit. And then went over to see the angora rabbits. Look at that first photo of the rooster and imagine that right to the right of that photo is a rabbit house. I was standing there, thinking of knitting and stress and the headache that was pounding in my brain, when that rooster jumped up onto that fence from the ground and started crowing at me. My friend (same friend of the summer porch adventures) hollers over, want me to throw you a rock?? LOL. Scared the bajezzums out of me. So after that I went and saw the goats, and the sheep. That little river ran next to their area, and I couldn't get over how clear and clean the water was. And then lunch showed up.. and well.. that was the highlight of the whole day. That and the beer I had with dinner. Give me strength Lord, I'm going to need it.