Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Suddenly, it seems like we are cruising at warp speed through the new school year, routines in place, personalities becoming evident, work patterns being established. The start has been remarkably uneventful for all the hoopla surrounding this group of students. I know we are still in the testing the waters stage but I have been impressed at how willing they are, as a whole, to work, to learn, and to try new things. They have their moments, no doubt, but I've yet to encounter a single discipline issue other than missing work.

I sense that this group needs success more than most. They need to feel loved and appreciated and accepted by the adults in front of them. They want to know their teachers want them there, and want them to be successful. I have tried to establish a relationship with each and every one of those characters I recognize from last year, those "hall sitters" who were constantly put out last year because of behavior. By stroking their egos frequently, by talking to them about things they enjoy outside of school, by teasing them and laughing with them, sharing stories and jokes, I hope I am building a bond which will weather the academic trials throughout the year.

The enthusiasm of the group is amazing overall. They are willing to contribute and answer, take a risk of being wrong. I LOVE that in classes. It is so much easier to take them further when they just participate. I have worked to establish the "I don't care if your hand is up or not" law. They are learning to look engaged and put that hand up to avoid being called on. The amazing thing is, when they concentrate on looking engaged and raising their hands, they ARE engaged! I love the comraderie of them as a group when someone gets caught off guard. They have learned to just be honest and say, "I wasn't listening. What number are we on?" instead of hemming and hawing around.

My 8th graders, my group from last year, are still in the visiting stage, coming by every day, telling me how much they miss me, transitioning to their new teachers and their new routine. I love that they are close, that they miss me as much as I miss them.... I don't ever want to teach 8th grade again. I cannot bear them going away to high school. I need them being in 8th grade, breaking away from me, so I can break away from them too!

The routine of the school year is falling into place, and I know, soon, it will be June and I will be sending another group on their way to 8th grade with tears in my eyes. It is a never ending cycle of kids.... each unique in their own way...

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

THE KIDS ARE COMING!! THE KIDS ARE COMING!! Today is the first day of school and somehow, I managed to sleep last night. Usually I am tossing and turning, thinking of all the little things I should have done, could have done. Maybe I have been at it long enough now I feel more organized, or perhaps, I have just learned that most of those things don't really matter the first day anyway?

Now, here I sit, alone in my classroom, enjoying the last of the clean shiny-ness of the order. Textbooks stacked neatly, students named etched in the front, notebooks waiting for students to write their own names on the cover, a permanent black Sharpie sitting at attention atop each stack, the tables all lined up perfectly, the computer cords all place, the laptops lights glowing green, handouts stacked with schedules, and parent letters, enrollment forms, first assignments. The room is smells right.

In less than an hour, all that will change. Kids will start trickling up the stairs as the buses arrive, one by one behind the school, exploding with students, laughing, decked out in their finest new duds, holding a backpack, some with name brands splattered across their shirts, and rears, others sporting the donated goods from Project Backpack. Today, they are excited, eager, ready to make their mark, thinking, "This is the year EVERYTHING will be wonderful! I am going to make it great year!"

My job is to meet them at the door, and keep that smile on their face for 36 weeks, keep that enthusiasm as fresh in January as it is today, make sure their goal to make this a wonderful year becomes their self-fullfilling prophesy. I hope I am up to the challenge.