The Curriculum Optional Days are over for another year. Interestingly enough, very few teachers chose to "opt out." I can't think of a single secondary science teacher that I didn't see yesterday, and we had better than 90% attendance for the elementary day this morning.
I can't say that there weren't glitches. The software for the grades 6 - 9 trainings wasn't installed properly by the techs and there were some related issues. But in each case, the trainer was able to roll with the punches and offer up something valuable.
The only official trainer we were able to get for elementary was fantastic. Here, too, there were frustrations in that we discovered this morning that his company sent one wrong set of manuals. But he still got teachers very excited about the new curriculum.
High school science teachers stayed engaged all day yesterday and gave good feedback. One from the school that is most resistant to district meetings said it was the most valuable day he's spent in the last few years. There were some amazing conversations in the afternoon when they were in "jobs alike" teams. A physics teacher who hassled me mercilessly last year led a group through a discussion of structuring inquiry and expository writing. Where the heck did that come from? The junior high life science and high school biology teachers chose to meet together and spent time talking about coordinating their labs. I don't feel like the entire day was a success, but the afternoon went wonderfully. I would really like for teachers to be able to talk more about student learning...and they're also not willing to seriously consider achievement gap issues. I have to keep trying.
The elementary day could have blown up in our faces. Every grade level has new science curriculum---which most teachers didn't know about when they left for summer. I had seven different grade levels to set up for this morning (including helping the one publisher rep we could get) and two grades to present. Things were missing (like the fifth grade kit), experiments didn't quite work (Who knew the fabric pieces had sizing and so none of them would soak up water?), and hardly anybody likes change. But there were lots of smiles today and a ton of positive feedback. People are pleasantly excited. Principals are, too.
I feel as though I have run a marathon over the last two days. I didn't come in first, but I did finish with a respectable time. I am looking forward to being able to now focus on the year ahead---an entirely different sort of gauntlet. Maybe I have the right kevlar for it.