Saturday, August 24, 2013

Reflections of a lead learner: Back-to-School

At the end of the first week of school, I’m still standing! I recall hearing years ago in one of my administrative credential classes that being a school administrator is both exhausting and exhilarating-- it’s true! Opening a school year is no small feat and takes the work of many dedicated people. I am thankful to work with such an amazing team.
Over the last few weeks, many people have asked me if I miss not having a class of my own this year. I have thought a lot about this question-- mainly because every time people ask me I feel weird! At first, I wasn’t sure how to answer the question. And then I felt bad. Because I realized I don’t miss having a class of my own. Here’s why: Every year, I waited eagerly for my class list to see who I would be teaching that year. I was excited to create our learning environment, to create space to display work, and to purchase the tools students would need to be successful. Once I knew the names of my students, I could consider their interests and needs when planning for the year. I reflected on past years and what worked and what needed to improve. I refined my classroom procedures, hoping that this would be THE year that my classroom would run smoothly. And I bought a new outfit and cute, comfy shoes that would allow me to get the job done in style. Every year I eagerly anticipated a new year with the students I happened to be teaching that year. This year is no different. It’s true, I don’t have a class of 26 five and six year olds entering Room 6 to embark on a journey through first grade. What is a class anyways? Isn’t is a learning community? This is why I can say without a doubt that I don’t miss having a “class” of my own this year. Preparing for this school year wasn’t really that different than in years past. If we define a class as a community of learners, I still have that. This year, I eagerly awaited interviews to find just the right teachers to fill some unexpected vacancies at my school. I was excited to help create an environment for learning-- it just happened to be our school instead of my classroom. We created spaces to display the work of both teachers and students, and I purchased the tools needed for our school to be successful. Once I knew the names of my teachers, I considered their talents and interests as I decided which teacher was the right piece in our staffing puzzle. I reflected on past years, and gathered input when thinking about things we might need to improve. I wrote and rewrote policies and procedures- handbooks, bell schedules, and the ever-important drop-off and pickup routines, in hopes that the new year would start off smoothly. And I bought some new outfits, mostly dresses and some new shoes. This year, instead of cute and comfy, I was looking for principal shoes! Classy and comfy are a tough mix to find! With shopping completed, the school freshly painted, and the schedules complete, I eagerly awaited the first day of school like I had every year for 16 years.  
This year, I don’t miss having my own class because I still have an amazing community of learners. My learning community this year includes the smallest pre-k kids, BIG third graders and everyone in between, teachers, support staff, and families. And that’s just at my school! My learning community also includes passionate and creative educators that I connect with - on Twitter, through the Area 3 Writing Project, and CUE, both online and in person. We are busy setting goals and we have big hopes and dreams for this year. It’s great to be back to school!