I have recently participated in chats and read many blogs about preparing for Back to School. The excitement, interest, enthusiasm and questions (concerns) are palpable. Beyond a doubt the educators who have shared their thinking are conscientious teachers, some with many, many years of experience and others fairly new to the field. Summer time is rarely a three month vacation for teachers; as it is rarely a 8 to 3 job. Very few leave their work at school no matter what time of year. I remember my years of teaching, when I could really let go was during winter and spring break (but not always); not if I had an opportunity to go to a conference or listen to a speaker that was on my must hear list. But now I sit back and listen, learn, reflect and share from a different seat at the table. I hope that no one will find it presumptuous of me to want to share my reflections as an alumna (having recently retired) of a profession that I still hold dear to my heart. Our summer PD, conferences, classes and readings motivate, energize and have us ready to apply our learning to do the best for the students we teach. We look at our classrooms and read about changes others make and we are ready to dismantle the room and start from new. We read about class libraries and think how to improve ours. We hear about apps that sound amazing and wonder if we should get them for the student iPads. We hear it’s not the tech but the learning and we try to figure out how all this plays out in our classrooms. We read blogs from incredibly creative teachers and how they have integrated the technology into their curriculum and how their students blog and have e-portfolios and how they are connected to the global classroom. We hear about giving more control of the learning to our students and it sounds so right and wonder if we can really do so. We know letting go is hard, but if we don’t try, what does that say about us and our trust in our students’ voice and choice. I have been there and I know how enticing it is to try everything, because aren’t I a teacher with a growthmindset, ready to charge ahead. But, I have relied on my mentors’ advice to take a deep breath, slow down and prioritize as I think about my students. And I did. I now stop to share what so many have said, that we teach kids we need to get to know. We need to let them know we care and want to know about them; their interests, their concerns, their strengths, their challenges, their likes and dislikes. We need to give them time and space to share who they are as we help them understand we are in this together; this exploration of the world, as we learn together. Yes I appreciate getting ready for a new school year can be nerve racking and exciting as we check off our to do list. But at the end of the day, my thought is this: When the room becomes “our classroom,” we know we’ve done it right.
Where are you as summer ends and Back to School is around the corner?