Back to school: Pre-Planning Schedule – community learning

How do we model the learning that we want to see in our classrooms?  Do we put emphasis on building relationships in our community as we learn and work together?  Do we use technology in faculty meetings the way we want teachers to use technology with kids? Do we strike a balance between what we, as an institution, need to learn with what each individual needs and wants to learn? Do we offer choice and voice for our faculty if we want them to offer choice and voice to our young learners?

There are things we have to do to prepare for the return of our students.  We need time to work in our rooms and offices.  We need time to learn together.  We need time to reconnect with each other and begin to build relationships with our new colleagues.  We have to complete CPR, First Aid, OSHA, Concussion Training, and Stewards of Children Training.

Challenged to carry on with our traditions, integrate new and important sessions for faculty, and balance the schedule for our time together before our students arrive, we collaboratively build the following schedule for our community.

We snail-mailed a draft copy in late July with a note that the live, interactive copy would be delivered by email early Monday morning (Aug. 5).  The paper copy of the schedule was not printed in color so the stars in the legend at the bottom of each page were a little perplexing.  (We learn by doing, right?)

Screen Shot 2013-08-24 at 1.41.08 PM

The links embedded in the agenda took faculty to Google docs and Google spreadsheets. (You can explore the interactive agenda; all of these docs are copies of the originals.  I’ve shared some data so that you can see how we crowd source notes.)

I wondered how faculty would react to the schedule and the embedded technology to have choice and voice.  Here are two comments received prior to the launch of Pre-Planning.

Just got the pre-planning schedule and wanted to let you know that I think you did a wonderful job!  I love your careful wording, the pictures, the quotes, and the fact that it will all be interactive! 🙂  And I know that Greg will energize us!
Of course you sent this out at 4:17 am! Were you on a run too?
I also wanted to let you know how much I like this new pre-planning format.  The interactive document makes it so easy to access everything in one place, and I love that some of our days are flexible in terms of when trainings are available. Thanks for working so hard on this.  I’m looking forward to seeing you back at school!


In our faculty survey, faculty requested more time together as a whole school.  Happy (1/2) Hour was scheduled every afternoon to bring us together as a community.  (Note: Marsha Harris (@marshamac74) coined the phrase Happy (1/2) Hour at MVPS during  //fuse.) The awesome Ginny Perkinson (@Gperkinson) exercised her creativity to plan to have Honeysuckle Gelato, King of Pops, CrackerJacks, fruit kabobs, and popcorn as we celebrated with each other.

To model offering voice and choice, faculty are asked to backchannel in the provided Google docs, and faculty are asked to schedule themselves for the must-do trainings.

How do we model the learning that we want to see in our classrooms?  Do we put emphasis on building relationships in our community as we learn and work together?

Keeping my fingers crossed!


  1. Jill, can you share more about Happy (1/2) Hour. Is that new to your school this year? Will it be something you do on a regular basis throughout the year. Can you describe the development of the name?


    • Sure. Thanks for the questions. At MVPS’s //fuse, a central theme was the importance of the balance of task and maintenance. While there are lots of tasks to accomplish, we must also work on maintaining our connectedness. We were looking for a way to have more community time together, celebrate each other, and have some fun. We are a team with common goals. So we intentionally planned to be in the same space during the last 30 minutes of the formal day. We celebrated with our Teacher Opportunity Fund grant winners, learning about their trips to Peru and France. We met one afternoon to discuss our social media policy. Our TOAST (Thanking Our Awesome Staff & Teachers) committee treated us to King of Pops popsicles. The Climate Committee arranged an afternoon of movement and exercise. It was AWESOME; there was a mini bootcamp, Zumba, basketball, and other ways to reenergize at the end of the day.

      Learning communities build relationships. We will continue to strive to balance task and maintenance.


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