There’s nothing easy about the beginning of school. As exciting as new beginnings are, they are also filled with uncertainty and maybe even a bit of fear of the unknown…on the part of the teacher, but also on the part of students and their parents. Even in a class like mine where two-thirds of our students return each year, it takes some time to get back into the rhythms of learning together as a community.
And then there is the need to shift from the habits of summer…staying up late, sleeping in late, playing and vacationing, visiting with family and friends…back to the routines of the school year. Further complicating the transition, it still feels like summer when school starts here. It has been unseasonably warm (downright miserably hot in our non-air conditioned school), the kind of weather where the beach and the pool sound so much better than the classroom, for both teachers and students!
(This portable air conditioning unit was delivered Tuesday afternoon…the day of the peak highs! It helps, but its range and capacity do not match the size of the classroom! Luckily, we should be near the end of unbearably hot weather.)
There’s also endurance that has to be developed; the ability to sustain focus for the work of school and learning that emerges alongside fluency, confidence, and stamina. As a teacher I see this endurance grow as the school year progresses, especially in the area of writing.
Our writers are already surprising us this year, only weeks into the school year, with their endurance, creativity, and willingness to take risks.
With our returning writers, we see evidence of the layers of mentor texts and writing lessons they experienced last year, and for the third graders, the year before, along with the richness of stories they have read and listened to in their lives. The first graders seem inspired by their older classmates, and are willing to put their emerging writing skills to use as they work through the challenges of transforming their thoughts and ideas into words on a page.
We’ve been writing in all areas of the curriculum…to learn, to think, to remember, to express. We write indoors and outdoors…
and we are working on revising to improve our writing too. (You can take a peek at a collaborative piece of writing we did in honor of International Dot Day on our class blog. (Our students always welcome comments!)
We often think about endurance when it comes to physical tasks…and there are those that definitely require endurance. I’m still working on improving my hiking endurance–increasing my mileage and speed and capacity to hike up steep inclines and setting a pace that allows me to continue to improve over time.
I’ve definitely learned over the years that endurance comes with repeated opportunities to do something that you actually want to do. It takes time and we don’t all progress at the same rate. It helps to notice your strengths and focus attention on areas where you want to grow and improve…and it always seem to help to learn in a community of supportive others who are also learning too. The writers and learners in my class are developing endurance…there’s nothing easy about the beginning of school, but then again, things worth doing are seldom easy!