Being back at school can mean a lot of things.
One thing it usually doesn't mean is singing and dancing in the auditorium with all of your teachers. However, that is exactly the experience fifth- and sixth-graders at Washington Middle School had Wednesday morning. Dozens of kids took their seats as their teachers lined up in front of the stage and introduced themselves one at a time, telling kids the subject they taught and one thing they were good at. After that, pandemonium broke loose.
The event was orchestrated by Patricia Lefford and Jill Smeraldo along with several other teachers. While attending a Professional Learning Communities training session, where teachers meet by grade level and content area to discuss learning strategies, the teachers brainstormed ways to engage their students.
"Basically what happened was a group of us were together at PLC training and we thought, we would love to have a way to kick off the fifth- and sixth-grade year," explained Lefford. "We wanted to show the kids that although we are all on different teams, we all belong to the same home team, the Lobos."
After the teachers introduced themselves with anecdotes such as, "I teach ELA and I think I might be the world's best eater," the sounds of the Black Eyed Peas "I Gotta Feeling" began to emanate from the speaker system. Each teacher pulled out a hairbrush and began singing along to the song, albeit not with the same words.
"If you look on YouTube you can find all the parodies of different songs, so we were looking at it and we thought we could do one by ourselves," said Smeraldo, who took charge of the project's technical aspects. "Jason Williams, an ELA teacher, rewrote all the words for us and turned it into a positive message for the kids for the year."
Although the kids looked taken aback by the teachers' sheer enthusiasm at first, they quickly caught the spirit of the event and started chanting "go Lobos!" at the top of their lungs. Lefford stole the show, parading up and down the aisles with a fake microphone, encouraging kids to get up and dance while displaying a general sense of playfulness.
"The kids know that we are kind of serious but we also want them to see that we can have fun," she said. "In fact, that's what I think I'll have as my 'what I'm good at.'"
The teachers want to continue using the song as the years' theme song and incorporate more videos, especially around test time as an incentive for students to work hard for a chance to be in the video.
"Really the whole reason behind this is that we have a big school initiative called PBIS, or positive behavior intervention systems, and so we are trying to build more fun ways of inviting kids for positive behavior and to remember that they are here to learn," said Lefford.
After an encore of the song, the dance party was over and Lobo spirit was riding high. Kids exited the auditorium singing the catchy lyrics to themselves:
"This is the year we rock the scores
We'll fill our classes with threes and fours
Using our teamwork, we'll get it done
And show the others we're number one!
'Cause we've got a feeling that this year's gonna be a good year!"