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Blog: Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

The Important First Days of School

By Dr. Kevin Godden, Superintendent of Schools

Let me start by welcoming everyone (students, staff and parents) to what promises to be another exciting and action-packed year in our schools. This is a great time to be an educator and a student. Despite having one of the best education systems in the world, here in BC (and particularly in Abbotsford), we have heavily invested in modernizing our education system. Today’s students will live vastly different lives than the generations before them, and our education system is fundamentally important to helping them become the citizens of tomorrow.

Despite the important changes to teaching and learning, there some things that will not and should not change in our classrooms. Chief among them is the fundamental importance of relationships. Learning is inherently a social enterprise, and students need to have positive and nurturing relationships not just with peers but particularly with their teachers. They need to have a deep sense of belonging. They need to know that they are known by multiple people who sincerely care about their wellbeing. We know that this is a significant factor in students learning at high levels, and is also a protective factor against anxiety.

This is particularly important on the first days of school, especially for students who are new to schools or classrooms. The seeds of belonging are sewn by the first interactions that students have on the first day. While the day is usually short, it is not out of the ordinary for that first day or that first week to be special in some way. One of the things I used to do in getting kids to build positive connections in our classroom was to have their names, hobbies and a summer activities memorized for each of them by the end of the first day. It was not easy to pull this off in an hour and a half, but I consistently did, and it made for great sport on the first day and the second morning when I would try to repeat the task. It was my way of letting each of them know early on they were special.

So, as we all look forward to continued improvement of our already amazing educational system, I would like to encourage and wish for each child that we create the conditions for them to feel a powerful sense of belonging in the first week of school, and that this sets them up for amazing educational experiences during the rest of the school year.

By Dr. Kevin Godden
Dr. Kevin Godden
Dr. Kevin Godden

By Dr. Kevin Godden, Superintendent of Schools

Kevin has been the Superintendent of Schools for the Abbotsford School District since July 2011, overseeing some 19,000 students and 2,500 employees. Kevin is committed to student success in all forms and envisions a school district that can nimbly respond to the ever changing needs and interests of its students.

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