#NoOfficeDay – A Hidden Gem

The days we have remaining to positively impact students are slowly slipping away and with each day, so are the days I have remaining to finish up my #NoOfficeDay visits. 

This past Friday I was able to spend time with staff and students in our AELC (Active Learning Classroom & Experiential Learning Classroom), a “hidden gem” within our building. 

When visitors enter our building or when we are showing incoming families around, I am certain to point out this “hidden gem” and speak briefly as to why I am so proud we are able to host both of these Plano ISD classrooms on our campus. 
As members of our Sigler family, the AELC students and staff are embraced just as if they were in a grade level classroom and they should be! Friday was just like any other day. As we transitioned throughout the halls, students in the AELC receive “hellos”, “high-fives” and support from passersby. Moments like this, when our “family” supports one another, are the moments that fill my heart. They are the moments that take just seconds, but leave a lasting impression. The students and staff I was able to spend my day with on Friday remind me of just how fortunate we are to have them as a part of our Sigler Family. 
While the students in the AELC may not raise their hands and speak when called upon, they have their own style of communication and let me tell you…if you are not listening or understanding, they will get your attention just as much as the next child. 
We speak about the importance of relationships when educating students and I am not sure you can find a better example than the relationships that exist between the staff and students in the AELC. Our teachers and staff in these two classrooms know these students inside and out. They know their individual communication styles, learning styles, likes and dislikes, what motivates them, as well as their social and emotional needs. I wonder what would happen if each teacher knew their students as well as these teachers know their students? 
One may argue that the teachers “need” to know everything about the students in the AELC due to the needs of the child (social, emotional, medical). I would argue we “need” to know each of our students to the same depth! Are the needs of one student more important than another?
In knowing their students, the creative activities teachers design, reflect current events, grade level TEKS and are hands-on and engaging! You will not find any worksheets in this classroom. In fact, the special Mother’s Day project students worked on  and the activity made out of recycled materials (following a lesson on recycling) was a perfect example of the heart the teachers and staff pour into the planning process. 
I thoroughly enjoyed my day in the AELC. It is refreshing to spend a day with a group of teachers and students who have such a desire to work with their students and enjoy every moment. Honestly, they make it seem easy! The teachers are naturals, but I warn you…easy it is not. 
The teamwork, synchronization and organization within the classroom is like no other. I was impressed, humbled and reminded just how special this group of teachers is, how fortunate we are to meet the needs of our students in the AELC and receive the love they have to give back to us! (I lost count of the number of hugs I received by the end of the day)
I am thankful for the gifts the students share with us and the gifts our teachers share with them!