Anna's first day of sixth grade was yesterday. I was in Leland at the end of the school day, so I stopped by to pick her up. I watched each kid exit Mrs. Lisuk's classroom, waiting for Anna. They sure have grown! But the kids looked oddly self conscious as the exited the classroom one by one.
I had forgotten about Mrs. Lisuk's exit rituals. Sh had stationed herself by the door and would only release each kid when they had told her "Goodbye" using the ritual of the day. On the first day of school it was a simple "Hasta Manana!" Some kids were fine with it, but others clutched when asked to utter the unfamiliar words. On the board were the rituals for the rest of this week. My favorite was "May the force be with you," answered by "And also with you."
In Sixth Grade, although students are still physically in the Elementary wing, they are starting the middle school curriculum. They will spend the year learning about learning. They will each be issued a laptop computer to use at school and at home. They will study learning styles and identify themselves as visual, auditory or kinetic learners. They will learn study strategies for all styles, and then practice by doing a lot of work in groups.
Later on in 7th grade they will investigate possible careers and do job shadowing with volunteers from the community. They will learn how to do internet research and business correspondence by researching and writing to colleges and trade schools that fit with the careers that they are considering. We want them to have enter high school with some idea of what they will do after graduation, and a realistic idea of what they will have to achieve in high school in order to make their plans happen.
In 8th grade they will learn to write resumes, fill out job applications, and how to conduct oneself in a job interview. At the end of the year, every student will go to an actual job interview, walking alone to a business in the village. Our business community graciously participates in this program, but many of the seasonal places snag good summer help this way.
Anna spent last week trying on possible "first day of school" outfits but then finally opted to wear the same plain shorts and tank top she had worn the day before. Mrs. Lisuk's room was filled with monarch butterfly items, including a tank of milkweed with caterpillars and chrysalises destined to become butterflies. Our K-12 school is all one building, but we house 7th and 8th grades upstairs by themselves, the chrysalis, where they can grow into confident, self-directed high school students.