I have a beautiful teacher's journal that a friend of mine gave me many years ago. It has preprinted pages, the front with several sentence starters, and the back with a place for more in depth reflection. Every time I take it out, I tell myself that I should write in it more, because rereading always gives me some insight into something else.
As I sit with this journal right now, feeling as many teachers feel by the thirteenth day of school (encouraged, bewildered, curious, enthusiastic, exhausted and possibly more), I'm struck by something. I have only written a handful of times and each time was in the very early part of the year. Each entry of mine is wondering about the children, about the group of beautiful young six year olds I have and marveling at how young they are. At the same time, in each entry, I mention missing my former students and yet being fully aware that I sent on children that were end of the year first graders, rather than the beginning of the year first graders that I have now.
Rereading my journal has given me such insight into this: the beginning of the year is a time of great disequilibrium (if that's even a word). It's exciting to build a community with a brand new group of children, it's exciting to try out new teacher learning that I did over the summer, it's exciting to have a fresh start. But it's also a time of learning routines and procedures. It's a time of practice, practice and more practice. It's a time of fun, oh yes, but it is surrounded by a lot of the less fun stuff. (Fire drills, walking in the hallway, walking safely in the classroom, finding out where we put our papers and how we take care of colored pencils, and etc...)
I never doubt the power and absolute necessity of the time we spend at the beginning of the year building our sense together of how we're going to take care of each other, the classroom, ourselves, and how we're going to learn together. It's exhausting, though, and I know it is for the children.
The children remember the end of Kindergarten and all that they did and could do in their classroom on a daily basis. I remember my students at the end of First Grade last year and how independent they were and the quality of their work and discussions.
You know what, though? The reason the students could do all of that was because I taught them how. We went through the same process I'm taking my new class through right now. The reason my current students were so successful at the end of last year was because their Kindergarten teachers taught them how to be successful.
So, really, I need to remember the end of last year as a reminder of what we will be like together (and already are at times) very soon.
In fact, just today we had a moment where we were all struck by something funny and had a lovely class moment together. It gave me a glimpse into what our class is going to feel like in a couple of months. It was kind of magical.
I can't wait.