The Year of You

That’s the motto for our school district this year, and it’s a good one – a necessary one.  After last year, when we were inundated with the alphabet soup approach to teaching in the form of SGOs, PLCs, MLP, WTH (ok, last one is bogus, but sometimes that’s how I feel!), it’s nice to know that this year there will be no new state initiatives.  Although, even as I’m typing this, I’m afraid the other shoe is going to drop….  But it is nice to know that this year’s focus is on the individual teacher.

However….

I’m proposing, for my building at least, THE YEAR OF US.  I’ve blogged before about my commitment to improving climate and increasing morale in my school.   I’d like our school motto, along with TEAM DICKERSON, to reflect the ongoing work towards creating a unified staff.  And, despite roadblocks and time constraints and sheer fatigue, I’m still hopeful that is a reachable goal.

On a semi-related note, here are two photos of our second grade character committee members performing a skit for our class to introduce the Buddy Bench.  It’s a place on the playground where a child can sit, signaling that he/she is interested in finding a friend to play with.  The hope is that others will see the child sitting there and invite him or her to play.  Thanks, PTO, for a great suggestion and a super sign!

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Because everyone needs a buddy.  Us too.  Thus, the YEAR OF US. (no rhyme intended).

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Two of My Favorite Things

Short post today.  It’s the weekend after the first full week of school, and I shouldn’t have to tell you how I’m feeling.  Or how I plan to stay in my pjs today.

Favorite thing number one:  kids READING to themselves!

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Now that we have 7 days under our belt, the same procedures that seemed impossible to get right are now becoming smoother and more second nature.  We worked hard on establishing the way read-to-self should look.  And from the look of this photo, we’re well on our way.

Favorite thing number two:  my go-to art project – drawing with sharpies and painting with watercolors!


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Family portraits.  And cute owls!  And now to continue my weekend….

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’cause she looks cuter in pjs than I do.  But definitely!

Sad Day, Happy Post

In an effort to counteract the emotions that come with this day, I’ll post a few photos that make me smile.

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A student was inspired by our classroom’s Hollywood theme.  I think she gets it!

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Because all the world’s a stage.  Especially my classroom!

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Our Team Dickerson bulletin board is really taking shape.

Happy thoughts.  Sad, sad day.

All About Eve

We know about Christmas Eve.  And New Year’s Eve.  Lately, I’ve been wishing people Happy Birthday eve, because who doesn’t like a celebration to start a little sooner?  But today’s eve is not one of celebration.  It’s of remembrance and honor. Each and every one of us has a 9/11 story.  Stories of loss, survival, disbelief and a collective grieving.  And lessons were learned.  And although I won’t be teaching any specific 9/11 lessons tomorrow, I may talk about bullies.  Friendship.  Respect.  Differences.  Acceptance.  Understanding.  Tolerance.  Because these are every day lessons.  Lessons for every day.

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Our school mascot is the bulldog.  A bulldog might look fierce, but never judge a book by its cover.  Our bulldog embodies all things good.  And that’s what I’ll think about when I see the many bulldogs that decorate our school.

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I’ll think about the good that’s in this school and in this world.  Even at this sad and scary time.  And I’ll pet this little bulldog for extra luck.  That’s something we can all use.

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I was teaching school on the first 9/11.  I’ve been teaching school every 9/11 since.  I’ll never not associate 9/11 with school.  But I’ll also know that while I’m at school, looking at those faces that weren’t even here 13 years ago, there is good in this world.  Right in front of me.  I hope I never forget it.

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First Day, Hooray

And second day too.  And although we’re enjoying getting to know one another (see pix below for proof positive!), I really wishI could skip this stage.  I want to be at the place where this group is a CLASS, where I know each individual, where they know me.  I want the rules to be firmly established, the procedures down pat.  I want to be able to know what a student is talking about even before they finish their sentence.

It’ll come.  It always does.  But never soon enough.

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Circulating among their classmates, asking “Get to Know You” questions.

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Making Hollywood handprints – because they are all STARS!

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Learning about our names and an art project – in response to Chyrsanthemum by Kevin Henkes.

It Doesn’t Matter

…if you’re a new teacher, or one that’s been teaching for close to 30 years (yikes!).  The idea of the first day of school is frightening, exhilarating, exhausting and full of promise.  But with that promise comes worry – can I do it again?  Can I make the connections I need to, reach the kids that need me, challenge the kids that need that?  Can I push through the fatigue that’s already begun – because I didn’t sleep much last night and when I did, I had those TEACHER DREAMS?  Can I establish rules and procedures with a smile on my face and a song on my lips (and CD player)?

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It doesn’t matter that I’ve done those exact things – and much, much more – every year, for years and years and years.  Because I know each class is different, and each year I’m different, and that is terrifying.  Happily, the terror is very short-lived.  The fatigue and exhilaration will last all year, but fear will be replaced by love and concern, frustration and pride.  I know this in my head; my heart just needs to get up to speed.  It will.  Always does.

True Confessions

In one hour, I’ll be sitting at our district professional development workshop, and the school year will have officially begun.  Back to alarm clocks, makeup, lunchboxes and fatigue.  In July, the days loomed long and large – I said so on this blog!  In July, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find things to fill the days.  I always think that.  I’m always wrong.

Now that it’s September, I have a new worry.  One I always have, and one that never happens.   Here it is, true confession style – Will I love my new class?   If you are a parent reading this, don’t panic.  I have met and loved over 30 new classes in my tenure as teacher, and I have NEVER NOT LOVED THEM.   Even when it’s a challenging year, even when things are not going smoothly, I have found a place in my heart for each class.  But right before the falling-in-love, there’s a missing-my-old-students phase.

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Can you blame me?  I had 180 days with last year’s students.  It made for a pretty strong bond.    And I’ll be missing that bond today.  I’ll meet my new class in approximately 7 hours, and for three or four days thereafter, I’ll be straddling a fence.  Still attached to last year’s class, ready to bond with this year’s class.  And in less than a week, I will have gotten down from the fence and will be fully embracing this new class.   It’s NEVER NOT HAPPENED.  But I never not worry about it either.

When I say that I love my class and my students, I am, of course, speaking about TEACHER LOVE.  It’s not the same as parent love, or friendship love.  But it is real love, make no mistake about it.  That’s why this time of year is so difficult for me.  Torn between two loves, and all that.  (Geez, did I just paraphrase an old 70s song??  I need to update my references.)

And so it begins.  And ends.  And that is how it should be.  The circle of school. (Ok, better – I’d rather paraphrase a Disney song any day of the week).