The Specials: Curriculum Enrichment Builds a Positive School Culture

Like all elementary schools, Symonds has its own distinct culture. The development and maintenance of the school environment requires intention and daily work. Social curriculum and academic collaboration require clarity and consistency throughout the building. Symonds art, music, PE, and media teachers all play a vital role in reinforcing the school culture. We do this regularly by creating opportunities to meaningfully express the foundations of our school.
We specialists (or “specials” teachers) teach every child in the school, often for five or six years. This long-term experience has several advantages:
Building familiarity with each student, and with his or her siblings and family
Watching a student grow and mature over time
Recognizing and nurturing abilities outside typical academic skills
We have the ability to interact and collaborate with every teacher and every grade level, giving us insight into how individuals and the entire school work together.
Maintaining a Culture of Caring
Because of classroom demands, the logistics of collaboration are often the most difficult thing to work out. Symonds’ master scheduler, Principal Cate, has figured it out. Specialists are given the opportunity to carve out a meeting time once each six-day cycle. The official purpose of what we call our Quest Team is planning and organizing school enrichment, but it also provides us the opportunity to discuss current school, grade-level, classroom, and student happenings. We celebrate achievements, share struggles, and brainstorm solutions.
Symonds’ specials teachers believe that it’s important for child development to have common expectations, language, and procedures, both …