If you walk through the hallways of Hayes Leonard Elementary School during the last half hour of each day, you will feel the buzz of excitement among students and teachers in grades 3 through 5. Small groups of 10 to 12 students fill every available space in the school to engage in activities that enhance learning. At Hayes Leonard, this is called WIN (what I need) time. Each child spends 6 or 12 weeks in enrichment exercises in areas that supplement the standard curriculum. The areas of study include musical recorders, non-fiction and fiction novel studies, applied mathematics, self-awareness, technology, art appreciation, and drama. WIN time is also an opportunity for students who are in the Response to Instruction (RTI) process to receive their services. Teachers have moved away from pulling out only the students who need remediation. Now, all students move about the building at the same time.
Last year, the staff at Hayes Leonard met to reword the mission statement of the school. After many hours and meaningful conversation the work was complete. The mission of the school became, “Hayes Leonard Elementary School Community maximizes the potential of individuals to become self-motivated learners through meaningful experiences that challenge and inspire all students.” The last eight words led to brainstorming sessions on how the staff could best meet the needs of the students and inspire them at the same time. The brainstorming sessions gained momentum with the teachers and staff as the discussion led to forming student groups across the grade levels and creating a focus for each group.
WIN time allows staff members to work with kids of different ages in a subject area they may wish to explore or may not usually have the opportunity to work. Mrs. Susie Bell, an instructional aide, shares her musical talent by teaching groups of students to read music while playing recorders. One of Mrs. Bell’s groups recently performed at a whole-school assembly. After only six weeks the recorder ensemble played beautifully for students, staff, and parents. Mrs. Bell was thrilled with the students’ enthusiasm for the performance. She said, “The students loved performing, especially a recognizable piece like Ode to Joy. Some had not played an instrument before and were pleased to display their new skills.”
During the same assembly, the drama group recited Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” to the entire school body. The young boys were clearly in their element as they impressively recited difficult material in front of over 350 people. Of the performance, fourth grader Ryan Pseja said, “I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect, but I learned to keep calm and trust my gut. I was happy when it was over.” Fifth grader, Zack Villarreal was also nervous during the performance, but he remembered what they had practiced the weeks before the performance. He said, “I learned how to use emotion, act out, and think about what I was reciting. When I heard the crowd laughing I felt more relaxed.”
WIN time at Hayes Leonard provides meaningful experiences that challenge and inspire all students.