People across the nation were so glad when January 1st fell on a weekend because we would all get the extra day, January 2nd, to regroup and relax after a busy season. But on my walk this morning I stopped in a breakfast cafe to use the facilities and there was Kassia, a kindergarten teacher friend. She had her computer propped up in front of her, the writing professional book Already Ready tagged and marked up with stickies, and a pile of picture books on the table. She told me about Hero Cat by Eileen Spinelli that she planned to use this week to talk about how illustrators use colors to match the tone and mood of the story.
As I continued my fast walk, I thought about Katie (another K teacher) who would be driving back from Florida today with Joseph. I can guarantee you that besides the kayak on the roof and the bikes on the back of the car, there is also a backpack filled with picture books and a few professional books. I thought Katie was crazy not driving back til the last day of vacation, but then I remembered that she is my tech-savvy, paperless friend. She carries everything she needs with her — iPhone, iPad, and computer. I know she’ll be planning lessons for hours while Joseph drives.
I thought maybe it was just kinder teachers, so I made a few phone calls. Sure enough, I got the same story, no matter what grade they taught. Teachers were using the extra day to plan, reflect, and organize.
“I have an idea for….”
“I want to try out a different arrangement for my guided reading schedule…”
“I’m thinking about how I will need to revisit a few routines and anchor charts so that….”
“I’m going through some writing samples I brought home to see where to head with my writing mini-lessons…”
And what about me? Well, with all the company from the week finally gone by six o’clock last night, my husband and I went out to a coffee shop for breakfast. He read his newspaper and I read two chapters of a literacy professional book. The rest of my day will include: going through my poetry stuff so I’ll be prepared to meet with a teacher who requested time to chat about a poetry unit she’s starting; emailing the teacher whose class I’m volunteering in this Thursday to make sure my lesson matches seamlessly with what she is working on; and thinking through a few lessons I did just before the holidays to see which ones might turn into blog posts that might help other elementary teachers. Wait a minute! I’m supposed to be semi-retired! I guess, once a teacher always a teacher.
Don’t take my word for it. Check it out yourself and contact a few friends today by phone, text, or email. See if it’s true. Teachers are busy working today. Hats off to them! And the interesting thing is that they are not complaining. They may make a few jokes about “yuck, back to the real world tomorrow,” but there is excitement in their voices. They are invigorated by the New Year – the chance to try a new idea, refine some old ones, organize or schedule in a different way, rethink how to support that group of strugglers, and so on. Some people may argue with me and say that it’s just the people I know who sound like “workaholics” or “type A personalities.” But, if that’s the case, then all I can say is, “How lucky am I to have such a terrific group of friends who are whole-heartedly dedicated to the children they teach!”
Best of luck to all teachers as they start the New Year!