The First Week Flew By

back-to-school-countdown-feature-leadAccording to my mother, she used to return to her Los Angeles-area middle school exactly one day ahead of her students. There was little time to revise lessons, decorate the room, or even learn of changes to curriculum or the school staff. She therefore is amazed I have seven days prior to the kids returning.

Here we are, five days in, and I wish there was more time. We’re arriving at 7:30 and working until 2:30, more or less, but quite a few hours wind up going to meetings. We’ve had faculty meetings where we’ve met new staff, learned of administrative procedure changes, and had mandatory review of health and safety procedures. As our principal begins her second year, she’s putting forth initiatives that should make our building friendlier and more dedicated to student success. Today, we looked at data from surveys parents, students, teachers, and staff took in the spring so we can roll out new ideas that address concerns raised.

New teachers were taken on a bus tour of our district, getting a sense of where our students live and how far many have to travel to learn. We did pass one student walking and slowed down and called out to him. Once he recognized his teachers, his jaw dropped and he backed away/

On Wednesday, we divvied up and attended professional development at subject specific sites so we car pooled over to Perry Hall High where Sean McComb, English teacher turned National Teacher of the Year, addressed us before our curriculum chief took the ALS Ice Bucket challenge took her turn getting doused.

Our department has met as a group and subsets have also met to jointly plan out curriculum for the beginning of the year. I’m serving on the student achievement committee, designed so we can work vertically and horizontally, using student work to guide future teaching and support one another. I also was assigned my chaperone duties (two girls’ basketball doubleheaders), and received my duty assigned which takes me out of the lunch room and gives me coverage, filling in for absent faculty.

And we’ve eaten. We had a nice luncheon on the first day and the PTSA hosted a breakfast on Thursday.

But all of this has revitalized us but it has also kept us out of our classes. I began putting things on the walls Monday only to see the adhesive fail so I spent an hour or so yesterday rehanging my posters and pictures thanks to heavy duty outdoor tape. Today a missing cord meant more time lost getting my entire classroom tech to work. I also struggled with figuring out a better flow for student movement for when they arrived and delivered or collected work which meant making signage.

Finally, today, I began crafting the actual lessons, nailing three before running out of time. But at least 10th grade is underway. Monday and Tuesday remain with fewer hours given to meetings so I should be prepared. Of course, I fully expect a long queue for the copiers as we all attempt to mass produce syllabi, handouts, and other documents needed to start the year.

All the old habits are falling into place as I get up, walk the dogs, drive and arrive, parking next to the exact same cars. The laughter that fills the English department office is energizing and one of the new teachers, transferring from a different facility, commented our faculty energy initially scared him but it has also re-energized him. This first week back to school has been a mostly successful rush.

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