Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer Reigns

The bell will ring at 7:15. I will stand on the third step of concrete stairs that leads into the trailer (portable) that is my classroom. It will be the last year for our portable classroom as renovations at school will eliminate most of the trailers that serve more than three thousand high school students. It will be the beginning of the end for the class of 2015. The beginning of the end for portable twenty-nine.

At 7:15 a.m. I will be standing on the top step, door open. I will smile into the sunrise, answer questions about room locations and survey the changing landscape.

Students will stream down side walks in cargo shorts and Hollister tees, a sea of blue denim. Pocketing cell phones or checking screens, tenth graders will walk tall. Freshmen will clutch maps and wander. Juniors will appear the most serious, eyes set on the beaming senior horizon. We will all trek to the media center to check out our new textbooks.

School starts in less than month.

Students will arrive on campus clutching copies of their schedules. Creased and folded, yellow or blue. Color-coded to reflect changes, schedules will be palmed and peeked at, shared and shown. Students will high-five, nudge, back-pat, grin and cajole as they crowd the sidewalks to class.

School starts in less than a month. For now, summer reigns. Summer is made of watermelon,  blue skies, road trips, and swimming. Summer is sleeping in sweet.

Soon enough school will start.Teachers have begun to meet in planning groups: a day here and there. We talk standards and routines and textbooks and assessment. We have a new test and new textbooks, new demands to meet and students to prepare.

I've been thinking about how I'd like the year to go and how to kick start our classroom community. Because though I am beginning with the end in mind (we have a new state assessment) , community must come first. I'm browsing my favorite team building books (Quicksilver, Duct Tape Team Building, 50 Digital Team Building Games) and sites like Wilderdom and PinterestI'm thinking about how we can use reading and writing to connect to each other during our first week together and how or when we can reach out to other classrooms. I 'm thinking about how YouTubers at VidCon build community  and what Hank Green said when I asked a questions during the community panel. Hank reminded me to give students responsibilities, to ask them for help solving problems. His response to my question reminded me to involve students in the meaningful work that needs doing and in the fun curiosity creates; both build community, sometimes more than hula hoops and human knots.

I want our first days to fill with story and sharing and  laughter. I want students to feel welcome. I want them to feel connected and cared about but also challenged and ready for the work ahead. I want to seed purpose and watch it grow across standards and strands.

What will students want? What will teachers? What will administrators?  That's what I'm thinking about as I count down the days until school starts.

Hosted by the team at Two Writing Teachers, link up your Slice of Life 
on Tuesdays throughout the year. 


  1. Lovely post, Lee. Your descriptions of summer have a breeziness to them. You are right is observing that teachers are meeting a day here, a day there, some f2f and some in online forums. I've been thinking about next year, too, and how it will be both new and old, familiar and foreign. Thanks for the book titles. I'm looking for new opening activities; I just can jump around all day that first day as I use to. It's a growing older thing.

    BTW, I'll be in Bradenton, Florida from August 14-20 visiting my best friend who retired a year ago. I know it's not your part of the state, but I'm thinking about Florida and fabulous teachers like you as I prepare for my trip.

    1. Thanks, Glenda, in terms of opening activities I realized recently that I can still be touching the standards (teaching or modeling how to cite textual evidence) even if I am reviewing the syllabus or school's code of conduct and those I must do those pieces in the opening days they are not my most engaging choice to set the tone for our community. Thank you for thinking of us Florida folk. Bradenton is lovely place, lots of new going on there based on my last visit.

  2. Love the team building games, always had my favorites & enjoyed seeing how each group approached the problems so differently. Guess we're all thinking, and the same kinds of thoughts. What will they wish, what will they be like, be ready for? Love the post, Lee Ann. I'm in school interviewing for a recent opening-trying to ask good questions at the end of July! Best wishes on your start!

    1. I bet you ask great questions, Linda. We've just had two days of voluntary teacher collaboration--like team building but content focused. Like our students we often approach things differently. It's been good to have a couple of days to talk to each other and plan. Great start wishes to you too!

  3. Love the images you painted for us of summer: Summer is made of watermelon, blue skies, road trips, and swimming. Continue to allow summer to reign. As I said in my SOL post, Approach August with a positive frame of mind. Open your heart to possibilities. I thought since your words flow so beautifully that you might be interested in reflecting and writing about your summer serenity spot for a global share. If so, please see http://beyondliteracylink.blogspot.com/2014/07/exploring-summertime-serenity.html

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Carol, and thank you for the invitation to contribute. I would love to! Sounds like a perfect share to stretch summer in our new year and use it as a way to maintain peace and the positive in those stressful moments of the year's start.