I just finished a week of preservice days – our children arrive on Tuesday. The week was a busy whirlwind of meetings, setting up the classroom, thinking through the first days and reconnecting with colleagues after summer vacation. As I left school on Friday I was reflecting on the week when I realized how inspired, energized and excited I am about the upcoming year. Our administration planned a wonderful week of meetings and activities that focused on creating community. We did not discuss test scores, school improvement plans or data. We spent time connecting with each other, exploring our strengths individually and as a team, and creating a shared vision for what the school year will bring and for the community we will all live in for at least 8 hours every day. There is plenty of time later to get into the scores, data and plans for the year – this week was all about creating that foundation that will allow us to work together as a team. It’s similar to that first week or so with our students. We have to spend time creating community, getting to know each other and making our classroom a safe space to learn. We need to go slow at first so that we can go faster later. I can’t express how much I appreciated my first week back being like that. And, yes, I do know how lucky I am. I wish everyone could experience a preservice week like that.
One of the things that I keep thinking about was something that was said during a math planning meeting. We have two new math specialists at our school so it was our first time meeting with them as a team. As we were discussing how we will go about planning instruction for our students, one of the math specialists said, “We teach children – not the standards, curriculum or tests. The children come first in our thinking and planning.” YES! This is so true. We DO teach children. We have to look at who they are as a learner, what they know, what they almost know, what they are struggling with and consider how they learn. Only after we have looked carefully at that can we consider the state standards, the textbook, the curriculum map or the information needed for the state tests. We have to put the children first.
So this year, when I am thinking, “what do I teach this week?” – my immediate answer will be “my children”. Only after I have thought about each of my learners will I look at the standards, curriculum, etc. and then decide the best way to make sure I am reaching the minds – and hearts – of the children entrusted to me every day.
Enjoy teaching children this year.