I had a great summer. I really can’t complain. I had plenty of time for golf and tennis. I went camping, spent a few days down the Jersey shore, and didn’t lose my shirt at Mohegan Sun. I took up running and watched the pounds melt away. I saw friends and colleagues throughout July and August. I spent time with the babies of the family. I worked some on my tenure binder, and I relaxed to my heart’s content.
I’m not apologizing for it, either. Last school year was a tough and tiring one. I worked harder than I had since my first year. We saw a lot of changes in our school, what with the phasing in of the Common Core. And I saw a lot of changes in my students, brought on by changes in my teaching. I may look back years from now saying, “2011-2012 was the year when things actually clicked!”
But how will I look back upon 2012-2013? As this swell summer has approached its twilight, I haven’t, honestly, looked forward with the greatest anticipation. I know of the challenges looming ahead and they threaten to put a damper on my usually chipper attitude. We’re moving now to full-on Common Core, which means new math and literacy programs. They will take time to learn how to teach effectively, but I expect there will be real pressure to learn them quickly. Put this together with some uncertainties about my class and the fact that I have the added challenge of having two grades under one roof and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and uninspired heading back. I’m just being honest.
Yet it is up to me to focus on that which I can control. Happily, I settled on a somewhat exciting theme for this year’s class: Swimming to Success. My vision is this: half the room is the beach, and half is the ocean. The ocean half has beautiful water, tropical fish, and a variety of other sea life. The beach half has palm trees, birds, and a boogie board.
As the room began to come together today (pictures will follow!) with the irreplaceable assistance of my mom and sister, I began to feel more excited by the possibilities of the new year. If nothing else, my room will be one of the most inviting in the building, and possibly the nicest, most cohesive looking room I’ve ever had.
Other positives are that I am, for the first time, in the same room for consecutive years. This means I have the benefit of knowing where I want to put stuff and how I want the room to flow. It also means I can continue to draw on the resources around me – and there are some good ones.
Anyway I look at it, vacation time is pretty much finished. Next week, we’ll make our official return for meetings. We’ll feel trepidation about the changes (and what in a school is constant if not change?) and bemoan the seemingly insurmountable challenges ahead. This will happen for two straight days!
And then, Wednesday night, I know I’ll find myself tossing and turning just a little bit more than usual. I’ll be anticipating the true start of the school year, signaled by the arrival of those anxious and smiling kids, on whom I must make sure my greatest focus is upon.
They’ll “swim” into their new room, we’ll start the day, and we’ll be on our way to another wonderful school year.
Aruba Sunset by Matthew Schreiber is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.