Category Archives: back-to-school

Back-to-School Ruminations

I would be lying if I said I didn’t have mixed feelings about admitting that I’m looking forward to the start of school in a couple of weeks.

Mixed feelings about admitting that I’m looking forward to returning to school in a couple of weeks?

Wait.

I am looking forward to returning to school in a couple of weeks!

There. I said it…at least in this blog…because saying this out loud in some circles may sound nerdy.

After all, who wants to return to work after a vacation? Who wouldn’t want to extend their vacation if they could do so?

Admittedly, summer vacations are my favorite time off from school. But, what teacher doesn’t look forward to summer vacations? They are stress free and rejuvenating. They provide a time to refuel, relax and reinvigorate for the new school year. They allow for extended travel time, reading – novels (adult and middle grades books for me!) and professional books – and for spending more quality time with family and friends. They are also a time to connect with other teachers through book studies, courses, and conferences – nerdy or otherwise.

First day of summer in June!
Best buds! 

So, yes, I’ve loved being on vacation, especially this summer vacation, which has been particularly memorable; my oldest daughter recently celebrated her wedding at the end of July and we hosted many out of country guests for about two weeks. The feelings generated from the wedding linger on and I hang onto them as summer officially winds down.
The day before the wedding.
Breakfast with my son-in-law’s family!

My daughter throwing the bridal bouquet at La Casa del Árbol,Baños, Ecuador.


Yet, I contain my excitement about checking out my new room, getting a hold of my class list (have to wait a little bit longer for this) when I try to imagine the person behind the name, gathering new school supplies, and figuring out how to incorporate all of the (free and online) professional learning I have done this summer.

Some of the new books I got this summer!

Source: http://ourelementarylives.blogspot.com/search/label/primary

I contain my excitement about the unveiling of the new furniture I requested that will make for a flexible learning environment for my students.

I contain my excitement about a new teacher in my division who is also interested in flexible seating and may make for a new partner in crime this year. Shout out to Nicole!

My first read aloud of the year!
Source:Wonder by R. J. Palacio

I contain my excitement about the first day of school when I get to greet my new class of 5th graders who are probably equal parts eager and apprehensive, as I am.

I contain my excitement as I anticipate getting past the formalities and awkwardness of that first day as we adjust to learning and living together.

I contain my excitement about my son moving to middle school because I know how fast that goes.

I contain my excitement about finally starting my field research for my doctorate. Since my research is happening at my own school, I look forward to making an impact in my school’s collaborative and professional learning environment.

I contain my excitement about the new middle grades and professional books I ordered at the end of last year.

I contain my excitement about organizing my classroom library so that it’s pleasing and accessible for my students.

These are some of the books my students read last year and
that I am eager to introduce my new students to this year.

I contain my excitement about getting back to the teaching I know how to do and weaving in new learning ideas from this summer. Think DIY Literacy, Who’s Doing the Work, The First Six Weeks of School and other mentor books that I will be leaning on this school year.

I contain my excitement about the possibility of sponsoring the newly minted Student Leadership group that was formed last year with the passion and hard work of some of my former students.

I contain my excitement about #GRA16 and reading Pax, a book one of my students recommended I read aloud to the class last year; it was a huge success. Thanks, Willa!

And, finally, I can’t contain my excitement any longer! Bring it on!

So, don’t contain your excitement any longer! What are you looking forward to this school year?

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Filed under #CompelledTribe, back-to-school

My Contribution

At a September back to school session on school culture, our director asked each of us to reflect on the following question:  What will be your most important contribution to the culture of our school this year?

I found this question so intriguing at the time that I decided to write a public response on my blog…that I never finished and therefore never made public. In light of recent challenging personal and professional events, it’s time I finish my response to this question and, in turn, reflect on whether or not I’ve been successful in taking up the challenge offered by my director.   

At the time and in the space I found myself, the answer to this question was quite simple:  be positive.  Perhaps, this is too trite and therefore meaningless but after a full year reflecting on what gives me joy in all aspects of my life, I have found that the simplicity inherent in being positive – looking at the bright side – resonates well with the road I’d chosen to travel. 

Or, so I thought.

The human mind is highly susceptible to all kinds of influences and it doesn’t take much to distract us from our determination to develop (or maintain) new habits or ways of seeing the world…if we aren’t careful. I don’t think I would be wrong to say that it’s sometimes easier to fall back on old and unproductive habits of mind than to struggle at developing new ways of responding to the world. If we look hard enough, we will always find something to veer us of our course and to break our determination. 

So, maybe that’s what happened to me or maybe the circumstances were such that I had no other choice but to hunker down and dig in my heels. The old dichotomy – who is the victim here and does it matter? In the end, we only hurt ourselves when we allow outside events to rule over us or, as my kids used to say, “be the boss of us”. 

Which is to say that I lost my resolve to be positive and instead found only negatives to bolster my arguments. Not that the negatives weren’t there but I let them eat at my insides until I became sick, literally and figuratively. Who gained? Who lost? Right now, it doesn’t seem to matter. Suffice it to say that by losing sight of what’s important, I once again find myself picking up the pieces and what seemed oh, so important isn’t so important anymore. 

It’s all about perspective 
and response 
and, yes, it’s about being positive.

I have another opportunity – we always do  – and I won’t mess up this time. 

Cross-posted at SOL – Two Writing Teachers.

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Filed under back-to-school, contribution, culture, perspective, positive