I’ve always looked forward to back to school. From those early school days– including the first day at Kindergarten when I jumped off the bus steps in my joy– to, well, this year. The classrooms have changed. The students are still students, though there are shifts in the issues and interests.
But back to school is my favorite part of the school year.
There are so many things about back to school that I enjoy:
- New school supplies. There’s something magical about new packages of pens and pencils, new notebooks, folders and other odds and ends. Even as I’ve gone more digital in life, I just love getting new pens, with different tips and ink. Fresh notebooks waiting to be filled.
- The fresh start for students. The students are (generally), clean, sober, and ready to make it a good year. Attendance is usually good– better than it will be most of the rest of the semester. Students come ready to work (for the most part). If I can hook the students early with engaging activities, I can build momentum through the first half of the semester. I try to strategically choose which texts and activities will get their interest, while still also holding some of the best stuff for a little bit later– lure them in, so to speak. Also, we get to begin building our classroom atmosphere, learning it’s individual flavor based on it’s occupants as we get to know each other (without ice breakers!). And we all know how two classrooms can be so different based on who is or is not part of it.
- New opportunities for the teacher. I can start a new rapport with this batch of students, learning and tweaking how I approach situations, classroom management, and procedure. I am ready to adjust projects and activities to reduce or remove pain-points from last year that interfered with student success. I have new ideas and new energy. I’ve been tweaking and collecting materials over the summer, reflecting on last year’s outcomes, and am ready to tackle things anew. While the craziness of the first week is unusually exhausting, once we start settling into what will be our normal routine, while students are still engaged, it’s like it all comes together. Move-moment teaching– or as close as I’ll get to it.
Back to school is full of possibilities. New students, new assignments, new year. The chance to be even better than before.