Part of today's post was written on Monday, January 7, 2019.
Why? Because a true reflection on the "first day back" needs to happen on the actual first day back from winter vacation.
On Twitter, there was a debate, as there often is, about how to respond to your students and about how to respond publicly, to approaching breaks and the end of breaks. I won't share the original message that Matthew Oldridge refers to in his tweet - it was a judgmental one from an "education thought leader" who criticized teachers who post "TGIF" or "hooray for snow days" messages. These two tweets I've embedded here were good reminders for me about perspective.
(In case you can't read them, the first says "We return to the schoolhouse on Monday. Some kids will be bursting to share their breaks with you. Some kids will be dying for a hug. Some kids will need to shake off the cobwebs. Allow for it all. Connection over curriculum on Monday". The second says "I will probably never get that blue check and guru/thoughtleader/keynote dolla dolla bills if I say this, but let me just say: it's okay to feel intensely sad at the end of a beautiful vacation with friends, family, your own thoughts, nice food, time to read, and so on.")
We return to the schoolhouse on Monday.— Michael Courington (@MrCourington53) January 4, 2019
Some kids will be bursting to share their breaks with you.
Some kids will be dying for a hug.
Some kids will need to shake off the cobwebs.
Allow for it all.
Connection over curriculum on Monday. 💙 pic.twitter.com/W2YCFgQgGN
These posts, and ones from my friend Lisa Noble, made me consider: how should I approach the first day? This is not a new thought for me. I looked back and in 2012 I made a pro/con list about reserving time specifically for students to talk about their time away from school and I remember admiring how Kerri Commisso constructed time that respected both those that wanted to share and those that didn't. Andrew Campbell said, in part of his tweet on the matter,I will probably never get that blue check and guru/thought leader/keynote dolla dolla bills if I say this, but let me just say:— Matthew Oldridge (@MatthewOldridge) January 6, 2019
-It's okay to feel intensely sad at the end of a beautiful vacation with friends, family, your own thoughts, nice food, time to read, and so on.
Many of our students will also be feeling sad that vacation is over. Being in the same "place" as they are is a point of connection. It helps you to relate to your students, and they to you.
Another useful tweet came from Jeewan C. (Note that it says "Remember that the break isn't always a "holiday" and not all students / adults have / want to share what happened. Think about How are you? Did you have a chance to do something you liked / enjoyed while away?)
Confession time: I actually don't have my lesson plans written for this upcoming week. I know what I want to do: provide time for students to do the final assignment in our communications / emoji unit, give time to play with some of the new items I'm bringing in to the school (my daughter purged her room and some of these things are just too good to give away) and plan with the students how to approach the Forest of Reading this year. But I need to play it by ear. Will I do the community circle topic of "use one word to describe your time away from school", or as I saw somewhere on Twitter, focus on the "who" of the break rather than the "what" or "where"?Remember that the break isnt always a "holiday" & not all Ss/adults have/want to share what happened. #LanguageisImportant #InclusiveDesign #InvitationalEnvironments. Think about, "How are you?", "Did you have a chance to do something you liked/enjoyed while away ?" more.. https://t.co/R7wyc63Crd— Jeewan C (@jeewanc) January 6, 2019
So, how was the first day back? Good! It began in an odd way - I have 16 traffic lights between home and school, and today, I hit 12 red lights. What is the probability of that happening? (Where are you Matthew Oldridge to help me figure that out?)
My car was full of stuffed unicorns, a new sewing machine and a skinny pig.
|View from the opened hatchback of my car|
|Students from Rm 117 trying out the unicorns|
|Fans in Rm 114 bonding with the new equine additions|