Although this year was clearly not like what most people imagine as ideal, this post, originally written in September of 2015 reminds me of how I used to long for the first day of school, all of the possibilities right there at our fingertips.
The world may be a different place now, but the need to connect students to their love of learning and develop meaningful relationships are more important than ever. Consider that as you read on and think about your ideal first day.
Early, of course. The room is silent for now. It's like it too is imagining the possibilities. Desks are set up. Walls are intentionally decorated.
It's the calm of enormous anticipation of greatness. The symphony of another year is about to play, but first, we must learn our instruments.
Closing my eyes as I look at the clock one last time before the bell, the eagerness fills me to a dizzying pitch. I'm ready and I hope they are too, ready for the most amazing learning experience of their lives to date.
"RINGGGGGGG!" The first bell rings.
The room is filling in with my amazing scholars and they are ready. Many I have taught before, so there are pleasantries and excited talking of summer.
They take in their surroundings. It's different than last year. "What's different?" They ask themselves, trying to place it and as they are settling in, I'm observing.
Who do they gravitate toward? What are they talking about? What do they expect?
I'll tell you what I won't be doing today... going over rules and expectations. That will come through our discussions over the next week. The most important step I can take is ensuring them that this is our shared learning space and therefore they have a stake in those expectations.
There will be a lot to go over, as our class time will be different than what they have experienced before; they will be in charge of it very soon. Once the routines are in place, they will be steering the learning in ways they may have only dreamed they could. I will be the maestro of that awesome, simply by giving them a platform and getting out of the way.
I hear the music now of interested conversation. Taking mental notes, I make sure that they know I'm here to support them in any way they need. What does the ideal learning space look like to them? What are their hopes for the year?
These kinds of conversations quickly set the tone for what is to come: a safe, but inquisitive learning space that requires them to mentally leap without the fear of falling. Mistakes will happen to all of us and together, we will learn to grow them and build a strong community.
Collaboration is at the center of our growth. The room, after all, is the smartest one of us. Together we make inspiration happen. We share ideas and ask questions and actively seek to find answers. Practicing our active listening to truly get to the heart of the challenges.
40 minutes will likely go by as a blur since no one will be looking at the clock. There will be intrigue that will bring them back tomorrow, ready for what they know they can expect. Poetry, in the literal and figurative sense, because that is what learning is, the rhythmic pattern of words and ideas put together to form something new.
And although changes will be gradual and may be imperceptible at first, they will happen and at the end of the year, they will be transformed: college-ready and sure of it.
"Ringggggg!" As the bell rings at the end of the class, I walk to the door with them. "Have a good day. See you tomorrow."
They entered with a warm smile greeting them and they will leave the same way. Some I will see again later and then it will be time to reflect.
Can't wait to tell you all about it... soon. Just one week from yesterday!
What does your ideal first day look like? Did it happen this year? Please share