Familiar Opening Traditions on a New Platform

Danny Stock

CASSIE: Melissa, you said you liked to swim, you liked cats, and you liked puppies...I drew the puppy like a shooting star because rainbows are cool and I thought you would like a shooting puppy star.
MELISSA: Thank you, Cassie! That looks so good!
CASSIE: You’re welcome.

This virtual classroom exchange took place during a sharing of 2nd grade Welcome Mats that students made for each other. As they do every year, students were partnered with a classmate—this year in a Zoom breakout room—and each child took a turn talking about their interests (favorite colors, foods, characters, hobbies, etc.). After both partners shared, students set about to design a mat with the words "Welcome, [Student name]!" and decorated with images that reflect the interests the partner shared. Then, students presented the Welcome Mats to each other in a ceremony during a class meeting. Watch the video »

The activity emphasizes attentive listening, turn taking, and empathy development.The activity also affords students the opportunity to draw some pretty amazing designs—like Melissa’s “shooting puppy star”—for their new classmates. Caleb drew what looks like a baseball stadium full of spaghetti for his classmate Andrew, who, as the reader may guess, is a big fan of pasta and baseball.

In 1st grade, teachers guided students through their selection of hopes and dreams for the year. Some students shared hopes and dreams that the teachers were quite familiar with: “learn more math” and “read lots of books,” for example. However, this year some students noted that their hope or dream for 1st grade is to actually come to school in person (and even play on the playground!). They shared their hopes and dreams with their teachers and classmates in their virtual classroom spaces. We are confident that these hopes and dreams will come true soon!

Even in Virtual Campus, teachers have found innovative ways to keep some familiar favorites in their opening weeks.

  • Lower School
  • Virtual Campus