This has never happened. We went the entire first day of school with no classroom discussion of procedures. The first day was more for introductions and movement around the classroom. We got to learn about our new Hoggatteer family. With all the activity, I didn't get many photos. Here are two from our first Team Challenge:
On the second day, we will definitely get into the rules and expectations for a successful fourth grade year.
I was happy to see at least 95% of my new students represented at Open House, Tuesday. We had the highest attendance for the fourth grade classes. That, friends, is always a good sign. Family involvement is always encouraged.
Just as important to me were the visits from former students. One hailed from our 1996/7 fourth grade class. Two or three are currently students at Joplin High. Others were from the middle school and from our own fifth grade. The brief conversations I was able to have with them are priceless to me.
For these and more, we are thankful
May we fill the hungry
May we heal the injured
May we comfort the cold
May we regard the neglected
May we inspire the complacent
May we calm the distressed
May we love the unloved
May we teach
May we learn
May we thrive
Maybe we will never convince you that wisdom marinates. In a profession where every worker is on the same pay schedule, no matter how much extra work one person does or how far one person takes the organization, it's hard for a conscientious educator to find respect from the rookies.
Colleges graduate students who find themselves in charge of classrooms across the land...and for some reason, many of them feel like they have learned all about the education process. They throw around lots of lingo, but they often fail at the practical. They persist in trying to prove that they have retained all of their four-year education, in spite of what the veterans tell them. They reduce their students to zoo animals. Their job becomes pest control. In effort to please their supervisors, they fall for every new initiative, every new catch phrase, every new gimmick.
But as Ron Clark explains in Move Your Bus, there are people around who might just be wiser. Odds are, they got into the biz for the same reasons as you, but they have seen the world (so to speak). They have many more experiences than you have. They probably have some wisdom that you, Rookie, do not have. You'll get there if you stick it out, but you're not there yet.
Perhaps it is the tone in which the message is delivered. Sometimes the veterans are cranky. Cynical. Sarcastic. Sometimes we exaggerate. Sometimes our memories are embellished with time. And sometimes our passion is expressed differently than yours. We may not jump in with both feet every time an expert speaks to the faculty. We temper our solutions with reluctance and patience. We see things through a different lens.
If you can crack that hard outer shell, you may find that we're not filled with eggy slime. We are filled with soft chocolate and gooey sweetness instead.
The mug shots...er...I mean...photo booth pictures here were taken
at the district's recent Teacher Orientation gathering.
It's often the first thing a person will ask of a teacher.
When does school start?
Or maybe this:
Are you ready for school to start?
And the teacher on display will often roll her eyes. Or sigh. Or return a snide comment.
It seems she doesn't want to go back to school any more than her students. She's dreading that first day. She's uncertain about the quality of life she will have when classes begin.
But is that really the image that she wants to portray? Is she being aloof because she thinks it's a funny response, or does she really feel that way about her chosen career?
I wonder how a corporate secretary or assembly line worker would respond if, once a year, we asked him about his impending days. How would the clerk at the store or the janitor at the hospital answer the questions.
Actually, they would probably roll their eyes and sigh, as well. Maybe that's just human nature. Dreading the work. Feeling the impending burn. Being forced back into service for another nine months.
I think we might do well to rethink how we answer. Our constant response of, "Don't remind me," just doesn't cut it when we maintain that we are teachers because we want to make a difference. Well, do we or don't we? You just can't sigh about it and still be passionate about it. I wonder why we don't anticipate August in much the same way as so many anticipate baseball season or football season.
If we feel like we have one of the most important jobs in the world, why do we play it down so much when somebody asks if we want to do it? That's clearly the wrong message to put out there. We don't accept such from our students, so why do we accept it from ourselves? We don't have to demand respect from the general public, but we would garner a fairer amount of it if we humbly and cheerfully anticipated getting to do it for another year. It's time to rethink our response to Are you ready?
This puts things into perspective. It is my annual display of annuals, my yearly display of yearbooks. From my first year (1990/1) to last year (2016/7), I now have a complete collection of 27 of these precious mementos.
Really! Twenty-seven years.
This is more than a pile of pages, a plethora of pictures, a menagerie of moments. These are the last 27 years of my life - a big chuck of them anyway, 27 years of connections with other human beings, 27 years of entertaining and teaching, laughing and crying, 27 years of living.
This, the 28th year of this great experiment, and I continue to tweak and tighten my teaching. Those in the know have long realized that a teacher never "arrives", that we never experience mastery in this profession. I suppose that's because there is certainly a human factor to our job. We don't assemble our products on the conveyor in a standardized line. Here are some observations:
On and on we could go, filling the pages of a book with thoughts concerning our students. At this time of the year, I tend to have double vision: I look back to almost three decades of elementary students, and I look forward to the next one.
We're all a little apprehensive.
We're all a little frightened about what lies ahead - but all we need to know is this:
Are you ready?
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