Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer Reigns

The bell will ring at 7:15. I will stand on the third step of concrete stairs that leads into the trailer (portable) that is my classroom. It will be the last year for our portable classroom as renovations at school will eliminate most of the trailers that serve more than three thousand high school students. It will be the beginning of the end for the class of 2015. The beginning of the end for portable twenty-nine.

At 7:15 a.m. I will be standing on the top step, door open. I will smile into the sunrise, answer questions about room locations and survey the changing landscape.

Students will stream down side walks in cargo shorts and Hollister tees, a sea of blue denim. Pocketing cell phones or checking screens, tenth graders will walk tall. Freshmen will clutch maps and wander. Juniors will appear the most serious, eyes set on the beaming senior horizon. We will all trek to the media center to check out our new textbooks.

School starts in less than month.

Students will arrive on campus clutching copies of their schedules. Creased and folded, yellow or blue. Color-coded to reflect changes, schedules will be palmed and peeked at, shared and shown. Students will high-five, nudge, back-pat, grin and cajole as they crowd the sidewalks to class.

School starts in less than a month. For now, summer reigns. Summer is made of watermelon,  blue skies, road trips, and swimming. Summer is sleeping in sweet.

Soon enough school will start.Teachers have begun to meet in planning groups: a day here and there. We talk standards and routines and textbooks and assessment. We have a new test and new textbooks, new demands to meet and students to prepare.

I've been thinking about how I'd like the year to go and how to kick start our classroom community. Because though I am beginning with the end in mind (we have a new state assessment) , community must come first. I'm browsing my favorite team building books (Quicksilver, Duct Tape Team Building, 50 Digital Team Building Games) and sites like Wilderdom and PinterestI'm thinking about how we can use reading and writing to connect to each other during our first week together and how or when we can reach out to other classrooms. I 'm thinking about how YouTubers at VidCon build community  and what Hank Green said when I asked a questions during the community panel. Hank reminded me to give students responsibilities, to ask them for help solving problems. His response to my question reminded me to involve students in the meaningful work that needs doing and in the fun curiosity creates; both build community, sometimes more than hula hoops and human knots.

I want our first days to fill with story and sharing and  laughter. I want students to feel welcome. I want them to feel connected and cared about but also challenged and ready for the work ahead. I want to seed purpose and watch it grow across standards and strands.

What will students want? What will teachers? What will administrators?  That's what I'm thinking about as I count down the days until school starts.

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