Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Gotta Go Back, Back, Back to School Again!

Whoooaaa... I gotta go, back to school... AGAIN!

Every school break is the same. Whether it is one week at Spring, two weeks at Christmas, the whole summer, or just a four-day weekend. It begins with plans and goals, to work and to relax. The days drift by... and some things get done. Other things don't get done, but that's okay. Time leisurely passes. Then the final days tumble unto one another and you are left with the mental static of could-haves and should-haves.

Yesterday was the first day of my 9th year of teaching (Does that make me a freshman or a third time repeater of high school?) Yesterday was the "Convocation," a formal and fancy word for all the teachers in the county getting dressed fancy and come together for a formal assembly to kick off the new school year. Except, things weren't so formal this year...

There were... BUBBLES! I am ashamed to admit that I can't remember the metaphor upon which the bubbles were based. I know it had something to do with there being many different kinds of bubbles (soap, beverage, waterfall) but they were all basically pockets of air surrounded by a thin liquid layer. Beyond that I was lost because there were... BUBBLES! Seriously, it was shameful. I was like the fish on Finding Nemo who was always thrown completely off track by the... BUBBLES!

I am a total cheeseball about the beginning of the school year. I absorb the messages on having a positive attitude and making "Magic" happen in the classroom and I get excited about the year ahead.

A friend had the following Words of Wisdom posted on her FaceBook the night before the school year started. Her caption was "Think I might keep this on my desk this year!"

I could really connect with this sentiment. There were times last year when I allowed myself to get too wrapped up in the "drama" of the workplace. They were only moments, but even so, I really want to avoid those moments this year. I want to stay wrapped up instead in what's going on inside my classroom.

There's going to be a lot of attention this year on my classroom... and all the classrooms, from kindergarten through Seniors. The state of Virginia has mandated a new Teacher Evaluation Performance assessment that is really going to shake up the foundations of how things have been done. It's as if the state gurus of education have said, "We have spent years telling you WHAT to teach, now we are telling you HOW to teach."

And... I love it!

It's the kind of teaching and  learning that I love to see in my classroom and this feels like an encouragement to see it MORE. It's cooperative learning- peers sharing- and authentic assessments- projects over old fashion tests. There are comfort zones that need to expand, such as worry about students being off-task when working on groups. There are habits that need to be broken, such as relying on worksheets for grades.

A lot of the anxiety right now centers on the fact that 40% of a teacher's assessment will be based on student performance. But this just seems... right... to me. Everything about this system of teaching and evaluation seems right to me. I know it's ideal. Utopian. It will not be easy. Change rarely is. But I have a really positive feeling about this. I feel like things I have always believed are being validated and brought into practice and encouraged. And that feels magical.

I love this time of the year when the floors are freshly waxed and the halls are uncrowded. It's a time full of promise. Perhaps the only good thing about bus duty is getting too work early when the sun is beaming through the doors at the end of the hall and it looks like this, even far into the school year.

So, yeah...
The school year has started... and that's kind of evident around here. The camera's flash card is filled with pics from the park and beach during the final days of "freedom." The Post-Its on my lap-top are filled with notes from last week's episodes of Big Brother and Project Runway. There hasn't been a whole lot of cooking or crafting either. Hopefully, I will back-post the time-dated things. I will figure it out. Find balance between the need-to's (schoolwork) and the want-to's (blogging and crafting). I don't know which of those two categories cooking falls under, Ha!

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