Just wondering about the end of the honeymoon.

The beginning of the school year has a lot to do with the end of the year. It’s mad. But the difference is that there is a certain level of excitement due to the fact that lots of things are different: new schedules, new courses, new teachers, new students, new families, new facilities. Moreover, at Academia Cotopaxi, we run our Week without Wallsprogramme and our Senior Retreat in the second week of school. Lots of novelty or at least many ingredients that give to the beginning of the year this distinct flavour and this keeps everyone on their toes. Also, academically, students rarely get a lot of summative tasks, so things remain quiet. I like to refer to this period as the honeymoon. But it is coming to an end. Now, Back to School night is over. Now, I did my first formal, weekly grade check with written follow-up to students and parents. Now, I have received the first applications for students who are planning to retake summative assessments. Now, our lunchtimes are busy with college visits. Now, I am dealing with the first discipline issues.  Now, this is all becoming more real, so we need to start that next chapter and be ready for it.

While everyone is still perfecting their goals for the year, I learned from last year that I need to get in classrooms as much as possible, as early as possible. First of all, I feel that staying in the office may give this impression, not always true, that I am not available. We also know that we could spend an entire day locked inside, in front of our screens dealing with electronic communication. Not exactly why I am doing this job. But it is also evident that our schedules can build up quickly with a variety of imperatives. So, I asked my awesome secretary to carve some time out and block my calendar with thirty-minute slots for mini-observations. By doing this, it actively reminds me to go out and spend some quality time in class. And every time I do this, I feel so refreshed and pumped up. Observing and then talking to teachers about student learning and about their craft is what really makes sense. Not only am I learning a lot (probably a cliché but so true) but isn’t it rewarding to have a teacher who wants you back in their class to show you how they acted on the post-observation conversation? On top of all the other pieces that announce the end of the honeymoon, this is my favourite one because I feel this is the best way for me to feel prepared for the next chapter. I hope everyone had a great honeymoon and that you will all enjoy that next chapter.

For what it’s worth…

About Fred Bordaguibel-Labayle

Frederic Bordaguibel-Labayle is the High School Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador. Fred was born and raised in the southwest of France; he finished his studies and started teaching in the UK, then went on to Istanbul and he is currently in Quito. Fred likes to pause, reflect, and share his experience as an international educator and administrator.
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