I have thought long and hard about what our first blog post would entail. I envisioned pictures of greatness. Lack of conflict. And our hands-off approach seamlessly working. 
In reality, I got what I really wanted. The thoughts and opinions of our amazing students. As school started, we began with 8 students, 6-11 in age, representing 7 different schools. Our students come from charter schools, private schools and homeschooling backgrounds. Taking all of that into consideration, we have been incredibly intentional to focus on the character quality of courage. We have told our class over and over again how proud we are of them and the courage they have shown in joining our inaugural class of NOLA Micro Schools. As we continue to get to know each other and our space, team building has been at the forefront of our time. 
As the year goes on, we will introduce the passionate people we have teamed up with to lead our students in enrichment classes, but for these first couple of weeks, we brought in a seasoned Improv professional. She guided our students through ice breakers and storytelling and the importance of knowing your teammates. This helped set the stage for building our team. We encouraged our students to design and describe a team, to define what it means to be a team player and to learn how to hold each other accountable to those guidelines. We will be spending the next few weeks discussing and prototyping the various aspects of our student contracts as we narrow down our specific goals and standards to create the accountability that will allow our team to be supportive and thrive.
Day one started with our students doing team building exercises, learning about where they have all been and facing their first challenge. As we opened the doors to our studio, our students were faced with one desk, one chair, and supplies to last them for the whole school year! Their first challenge was to create a proposal to present to us and a team member from Idiya, our maker space partners, reflecting the floor plan for their classroom. Their guidelines were to plan, prototype, participate and present their proposal. They were encouraged to break down their ideas into three categories: needs, wants and things they can build with our Idiya partners.
We were in awe at their proposal. They not once mentioned desks and chairs for every student. Rather, their focus was on communal space that allowed them to grow as a team. They put a lot of time in their reading nook space and shelving for organizational purposes. One of their initial requests was also for a water fountain. Once they received feedback regarding their budget and the reality of drilling into concrete, rerouting plumbing and the installation of a water fountain, their response was, "Forget that! WE can bring in two water bottles each day for ourselves." Problem solving already.
Slowly but surely, they are seeing the things they requested show up in their studio space. This has been a beautiful point of growth for me as I appreciate organized and clean spaces. I am thankful for the opportunity for them to see the challenges of orchestrated chaos in a small space. They have an entire maker-space at their disposal, and they continue to choose to spend time in their small, yet homey, reading nook area. This is a great lesson in the importance of student-driven learning. Who am I to say that a small space is something that challenges them from the team building growth we are pursuing? I look forward to many more times this year when our students challenge my preconceived perceptions. We have to set the stage for our culture and our community. This foundation is pivotal to the future of our students really believing in the safety and security of being a part of the NOLA Micro Schools team. With the right foundation, they will soar. 
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