I'm in the middle of the first week of school! Yea!

I'm highly tempted to begin by complaining about a Kafkaesque move by our on-line grade information system people to limit instructor input, but I'll pass on that for now. Why? Because, simply put, there are so many good things happening on our campus right now, and a lot of it has to do with training that I and other instructors received from the district that really struck a nerve:
"Capturing Kid's Hearts"

This is a program by the Flippen Group, intended to introduce teachers to a process of classroom management built around a social contract. This isn't exactly a revolutionary idea: many teachers have used social contracts before, but what made this presentation so helpful to me is that it provided a very thoughtful and well-organized way to channel our good intentions into results, to allow us to express caring to students in a way that is professional and appropriate.

I have attended more than my share of such meetings, and I can honestly say this is one of the three best things that I have experienced in my career so far. Look at this photo of veteran teachers after the third day of the presentation:

I have trouble squaring these smiling faces with past experience. You could see the 'light bulb' go off in the heads of veteran teachers, many of whom described the training as transformational.

Now, me...I'm a natural skeptic where good feelings and good intentions are concerned. I don't really know yet if this will be a lasting change, or a momentary blip. But my money is on the former: Tuesday, the second day of instruction, was one of the best days of my ten years as a teacher. Without sounding Pollyannish, I have to wonder how much our entire campus culture might change if everyone went through this program, not just a significant fraction of teachers and students. We . . . could change everything.