Sunday, August 10, 2014

Back to school!

flickr image credit 
It's the night before my 18th first day of school as an educator, and my second as an administrator. Although my preparation is definitely different than in my years as a classroom teacher, I'm just as excited as I ever was! I can't wait to see the kids jump out of their cars in the morning in their first day outfits and see the smiles on their faces. People often ask me if I miss teaching and having my own class. Yes, in a way I suppose I do, but what I really LOVE about school is learning. And every single minute of every single day is still filled with learning for kids, teachers, families, support staff, and me! I can't wait!

This year feels different than last year, and I'm not quite sure why. Maybe it's that it's my second year at my school and not everything is new to me. Last year I was new, along with 7 out of our 9 teachers, so we were really building the plane as we were flying it. This year we have some new and exciting challenges- we're adding 4th and 5th grade, and none of our 5th graders were at our school last year. We've got our fabulous returning teachers and added 6 new to our team in addition to 3 student teachers, a new custodian, campus supervisor, and administrative assistant. Our staff is so big we now have 3 tables in our staff lounge! It feels good! Our little school has grown from 230 to 357 students in grades TK through 5th! 

New students mean new challenges, a new bell schedule, more cars and fewer parking spots. If you have ever been to our campus, it's a very unusual school in a commercial space, next to the Big Box Clearance Store and Mattress Distributor. Our classrooms have no windows and our playground has no grass. If you look out behind our school, you'll see Sleep Train Arena, the home of the Sacramento Kings. It's pretty unconventional-- and yet, it's magic. I can't wait to get there every day!

Why am I so excited about the first day of school? Here are just a few things I can't stop thinking about as we begin our new year!

  1. 357 students by name in the drop off line! I am looking forward to greeting the students I know and learning the names of our newest students as fast as I can!
  2. Seeking treasure- Learn Like a Pirate! Inspired by Dave Burgess and his book Teach Like a Pirate, we are embarking on a year long journey together with a pirate theme! 
  3. Writing! Every student and teacher in our school has a writer's notebook and we'll be exploring writing and writer's workshop together all year long, culminating with a Family Writing Night in the Spring. Here's a great back to school post about Writer's Notebooks by Katherine Sokolowski. 
  4. Reading! As you wander our school, you'll notice book doors everywhere where teachers and staff post books they have read recently, books they plan to read, and what they're currently reading. Our library is slowly getting ready to open, and we're starting a monthly family/student book club this year after being inspired by this post!
  5. Homework! We're rethinking homework this year in hopes of making it more inspiring, relevant, and meaningful. Here's a post you might be interested in if you're tired of traditional homework!
  6. Adopt a college! New this year, each classroom is adopting a college and we hope the college will adopt them back! If you see pennants and college flags around our school, it's because we are planting the seed that college is possible for each an every student in our school. Each grade level has a few college-related vocabulary words and we are looking forward to singing fight songs and promoting college spirit! 
  7. Art! We are excited to be incorporating more art of all kinds this year. We will have a school-wide visual art program, grade level plays, and we are hoping to fundraise for a portable stage! Every student in our school also will learn Spanish, and we're hoping to incorporate more music in the coming year.
  8. Technology! This year, we have a Mac lab, Chromebook carts, an iPad mini cart and teachers have iPads for teaching. We decided to purchase iPads instead of a traditional document camera since there is so much additional functionality for not much more money. 
  9. Maker Space! This year we are trying to incorporate a maker space, Minecraft, Genius hour, STEAM, and more. Our after school enrichment will feature a Maker Monday session that will combine Minecraft, making, DIY and more with our very own IT team of Joe Wood and Joe Cook! We can't wait to see how that evolves.
  10. Totally new classroom design! I'll share more pictures later, but our two 4th grade teachers have totally transformed their learning environments- no front, comfy learning spaces, rugs, tables instead of desks and more. We were inspired by two blog posts Reimagine Classroom Design and  Room Design or the Hobbit: An Unexpected Gathering when designing our new spaces. 
  11. No Office Day! Tomorrow is my first #noofficeday! Check out my previous post about getting out of the office and into classrooms with teachers and kids.

What are you excited about as you begin the new year?


  1. Thank you posting this. It is wonderful to read about the excitement in others. As a teacher, it does wonders to hear what our administrators are excited about when it comes to teaching and learning. You are giving your teachers a gift by opening up and letting them read your reflections.
    Have a great year, and I can't wait to keep reading about how the year goes. :)

    1. Hi Kelly!
      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment! I have admired you from afar for a long time! I can't wait to see how it all unfolds and plan to blog along the way, Have a great year!