Even though I spent most of a week prepping materials before returning to school, the actual return required a tremendous amount of mental recalibration. The shift from that of a writer to that of a teacher felt more profound this time.
On Sunday, Deb helped me get the classroom ready. After everything was moved to wax the floors, things needed to be sorted and returned to their proper places. I struggled a lot to figure out a workable seating arrangement, anything to avoid the traditional rows. I gained some new bookcases so that meant redecorating walls, and Deb was a tremendous help with that.
Monday was lovely as the faculty reunited in person for the first time in over a year. It was great seeing everyone and we got ready. There were meetings and chats and more time to prep and I still wasn’t happy with the seating.
Tuesday was more of the same but thanks to a fellow teacher, I got something organized that I felt would work.
Yesterday, the freshmen and transfer students arrived for orientation so it was down to fine tuning. My principal saw my arrangement, understood what I was going for, but with the need for social distancing, he felt it wouldn’t work. So, in the end, I wound up with traditional rows which is suitable but just not my preference.
Today the 2021-22 year got underway. My six classes—two college prep Intro to Lit, two Honors Intro to Lit, two Honors British Lit—were solid. The majority of my juniors are people I taught two years ago so there was an instant familiarity that felt good. My freshmen were very quiet and the challenge to master six dozen names has begun.
To break the ice, I broke them into teams of four or five, handed then a Ziploc with 20 marshmallows and 20 toothpicks with a challenge. They had ten minutes and I insisted they start by sharing names. Most took to it very well and had some fun. Once that was done, we could dig into what my class would be about.
So, one day down and it wasn’t a bad one at all.