Dateline: Monday, August 10, 2015 Gwinnett County, GA
Today is the day! The streets are filled with yellow buses; sidewalks have filled with backpack-covered children, as if a clutch of turtles are migrating. Cars fill
the streets around schools; Black Friday-ish, as if something is being given away for free… (And maybe it is!)
What is it about beginnings that feel so fresh, so invigorating, so, um, Scary!
I am ready. Sort of. The “stuff” of school is there, waiting, pregnant, to birth knowledge within my students. The desks, the posters, the lessons, the activities for the first day, the first week are all waiting. I am ready. But I’m not. Because I am waiting, too.
This year already feels Different.
Different isn’t a bad thing. Every year is different for teachers: new kids, new classroom (sometimes), new curriculum or teaching method. This year is different. Yes, I am in a new classroom. I am teaching Algebra I and Geometry (I’ve taught them before – years ago), which means I am teaching kids (9th and 10th graders!) who are at very different places emotionally, socially from the ones I taught last year. I am co-teaching three classes (with three different, wonderful teachers). I am teaching three classes of my own. Oh, yeah, we are going to block schedule, A/B days, 5 sections each day, alternating days. I am assigned to a different academy than last year (we are an Academy school with five academies- I am now in STEM. A totally rocking group of educators!) I am also special Ed, so I have a caseload of students that I work with. Only two will be children I’ve worked with before; the rest will be New. (They gave us a whole period – okay 23 minutes – a day to have time with these new babies!!!) Then, there is the
Best 1st Day Ever #bestfirstday
Let me set the stage: Advisement. Not homeroom anymore. Each student is assigned to a teacher who will be a primary mentor/support for them. The teacher will keep tabs on their progress, grades, attendance, and behaviors. They will provide lessons: personal growth, attitudes, knowledge of career pathways, practical activities like filling out job and college applications – tons of good stuff – AND be the primary contact for the parent, so that parents aren’t being contacted every few weeks by eight different teachers! Whew! This will be the student’s home. For 23 minutes. Every school day. Right before lunch. (Did I mention that I, and the other teachers in special Ed don’t have advisement? see caseload, above.)
The FUN begins!
On Monday, this Monday, students will show up in their Advisement classes. They will be present and accounted for. Then, by grade level, they will embark on a journey with four destinations: a pep rally, a Club Fair, a special guest speaker: Patrick George, and Administration (Academies, rules and regs). For the first half of the first day, they will be celebrating and exploring all of the possibilities of their coming school year, #DontKnockItTilYouveTriedIt.
They, the students, will carry all of this energy into the afternoon, where I (and the other teachers), as teachers of curriculum, will meet them in the classroom. (Did I just imagine a great screeching of brakes?!?) I hope and pray not! I hope we have filled these restless, nervous, excited, wonderful children with something, some feeling, that will leave them wanting more from the school experience than they have ever had.
I hope every teacher is ready to begin something powerful and exhilarating that will carry the class through those days when lessons aren’t.
I hope I will be able to inspire and challenge these children. That all of these great lessons and learning ideas will come to life in my hands for my kids this year. So I am ready. But I am not. I am open. I am expecting to be challenged. And delighted. And amazed. (And maybe disappointed and frustrated… But that’s for another post!) I am ready to meet my children, my kids that I will spend the next year with. I am nervous about adjusting to all of the changes, the challenges, the differing subject matters and preps. The new co-teaching relationships. The changes.
Just like that first plunge into the pool at the beginning of the summer, chill-bumps, take-your-breath-away cold, the first day of school is unsettling – for a moment, but only a moment. So I am ready… um, maybe.