Sunday, September 21, 2014

A different type of back to school

I was really looking forward to going back to school this year. I was taking on a new challenge leading my school's advanced learning program. All summer I was inspired by great new ideas from edcamp Idaho, my amazing PLN, and the books I read. My school had a much-needed remodel over the summer. We would finally have hallways! (That's a big deal: for the last nine years, students from other classes have had to walk through my classroom just to visit the restroom. When an entire class had to leave for lunch or the library, it would effectively interrupt teaching and learning until they passed.) I could hardly wait to share all of this with my students!

My school buzzed with energy (and last-minute construction sounds) as students arrived on the first day of school. I found a place near our new front entrance where I could help kids and parents find classrooms, share my excitement for our "new" building, and provide an enthusiastic welcome to a new school year. Since I'm a specialist teacher this year, I wasn't confined to my classroom that morning. Being out in the halls was amazing! It was wonderful to be a friendly face greeting our families on the first day of school.

Then the bell rang.

I went back to my classroom - alone.

I missed the first day of school excitement of a classroom. I still had plenty of work to do. Our remodel came with lots of new technology that I needed to help our staff learn how to use. I went outside for every recess and helped direct traffic when it was time for parents to pick up the morning kindergartners. Still, every time I went back to my room, it was empty.

Tomorrow is my second chance at a first day of school. I've spent many long hours assessing students and poring over data to help determine reading and math switch groups. Some of those groups will finally come to me tomorrow. I can't wait to build a classroom culture of supporting each other and embracing challenge. I'm planning to go in to school today, on Sunday, to make sure everything is ready. I definitely have my usual first day of school "butterflies," just a few weeks later than normal.

I think I made the right choice taking on this new challenge and leaving my traditional fifth-grade classroom behind. Still, I'm nervous about this new role. Will I be able to develop a strong bond with students who I work with for less than an hour each day? How will I get to know the whole child when my task is to provide enrichment in a specific subject? I have a lot to learn in this new job. And I'll keep you updated as I continue to experiment and refine...

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