Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Back to School...

School started this week and, three days in, I am already exhausted.  But it is a good exhausted.  When you have done it for so many years,  teaching routines and procedures can be tedious, but the payoff is worth it.  The work that is done in the beginning of the year helps to determine the kind of teacher that you get to be throughout the year.  And it only took me about a decade to figure that out.  So even though I am itching to jump into the meat and potatoes of 6th grade, I am practicing.  We practice lining up, and then do it again more quietly.  We practice turning our chairs to "face the teacher" as I move to various spots around the room.  We practice talking to each other nicely and discuss what makes a "great classmate."  

And we get to know each other.  They learn that I have 3 dogs and a husband, that I have been teaching for 24 years, that my brother and I used to fight when we were younger, that I have tons of "marshmallow moments" so they shouldn't worry if they see me crying for them or with them.  They learn that the classroom needs to be a safe place for everyone.  That learning is a struggle, but it is so worth it.  That what they put in to their learning, will help to determine what they get out of it.  They learn that learning occurs at different speeds and they should never feel ashamed about needing more time.

And I learn that Andrew loves bacon, and Julianne loves art.  Madison has a cat that attacked her when she first got him---and the cat scratched her "here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and even here!"  I now know that Faith wants this year to be "different" and that she wants to know how to get along with others.  I know that Israel has two bunnies and the center of Elias's world is his mother. I learn that Vanessa is worried about making friends and needs help in reading.  

We learn so much about each other the first week as we do a variety of team building activities.  I see who the leaders are and who can persevere.  I figure out who needs that extra little bit of encouragement and who is fearless.  I get to see how they interact with each other in a groups of varying sizes.

And when I start to feel stressed because I am already 2 days behind the suggested pacing guide, I remember that a well-run classroom is a room where children learn more easily and are more vested in their learning.  And so I take a deep, calming breath, and I relax--secure in the knowledge that, while there will always be challenges, it is going to be another great year.

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