By 5:30, I was in my car driving to the first student day of my 12th year as a teacher.
I honestly can't reconcile that fact in my mind. I still feel as though I'm in my first few years as a teacher and, in a way, I am. This is only my third year in my current district and those have been full of transition and change.
I took a break from blogging last year and I think there were unintended consequences in terms of my own perspective on my teaching, so I'm going to start up again.
Like, for realz!
I began this year, not by introducing the syllabus and classroom rules and grading policies, but by having my students write.
My typical Day 1 activity has been asking students to define a "sandwich." I always get groans and laughs and GREAT discussions and today was no exception.
In an effort to make it more rigorous and mature, since I'm teaching older kids this year, I took a page from the playbook of my kindred teaching spirit, Brian Cerullo (Give him a follow!)
I asked them to write silently for 5 minutes followed by a discussion. In a few cases, I kept having to propose "whatabouts" to challenge their definitions, but by and large, the other students did that. I was able to sit and watch them interact, keeping track of points I wanted to hit and asking certain students to answer the concerns made by others.
Many of the students left the room with their heads hurting and frustrated in a good way. All day, I only had one student yell out "just tell us what a sandwich is!"
"What do YOU think it is?" the teacher asked socratically.
"Socratically isn't a word, Justin" you say.
"How do you know?" I respond socratically.
The other first day change this year was that I used the Name Tents from the brilliant and incomparable Sara Van Der Werf.
I asked students to write a sentence or two at the end of class, reflecting on the class, making comments and giving me their thoughts, and I promised to respond to each one! Out of 75+ kids, only 3 left them blank. The comments that I got from them were so interesting and I was glad to hear and be able to respond to each one.
No one told me that I smelled bad, even though it hit 90 in my room today!
I'm looking forward to an interesting (in a good way) year.
I'm going to go crawl inside the refrigerator now.