Take-offs and Landings

August 1. It’s such a bittersweet day. As Jenny said to me not so long ago, it’s the Sunday of summer. There’s an excitement about the upcoming school year, as well as the slight tinge of sadness of the leisure of summer coming to an end. I have to say, days like today make going back to work just a little bit harder. It was one of those perfect Wisconsin days: blue skies, a slight breeze, ideal temperatures. I was putzing around the apartment this evening, when I looked outside. There was no way I was letting this gorgeous evening go to waste. I strapped on my running shoes, grabbed my iPod, and headed out for an evening walk.

As I cruised my quiet neighborhood, I couldn’t help but appreciate the beauty of this summer day drawing to a close. The sun was just beginning to set, brushing the landscape with a golden hue and turning the edges of the horizon a lovely pink. There were a few puffy clouds floating in the sky, and the sounds of airplanes taking off and landing. See, I live fairly close to the local airport. This past week, there has been more activity there than normal, which I attribute to EAA in Oshkosh. Tonight, I watched a plane float down and make contact in such a gentle way, followed by another lifting effortlessly into the air moments later. 

And then it hit me. That’s what I want my classroom to be like.  I want my students to be like those planes: gliding gracefully through the sky, coming in for a landing when they need me, and taking off again to explore new places as independent learners. I really think pursuing the workshop method is a way to achieve that.

The other reason I went out for a walk was to give me some thinking space for tackling this whole workshop concept. We’re so excited about it, but at the same time, feel a little lost. My hope was that as I walked, I could work through some of the logistical aspects, as that seems to be where the majority of our struggle is right now. I was able to work out the beginnings of a daily schedule. It needs work, and we need to figure out the details, but it’s a start. 

While the days of summer may be winding down, there is an excitement bubbling. It’s time to buckle down and get ready to welcome the next crew of seventh graders into the wonderful organized chaos that this year promises to be.



June 10th! June 10th!

June 10th is the date we’ve been waiting for. The “official” start to summer (well, for Jenny that is…mine started June 7th), which also means the official start to planning the next school year. Our pow-wow date for our workshop info session is June 19. Elizabeth sent us the agenda, and it looks awesome. We are going to be walking away from this meeting with a wealth of information.

As awesome as that is, I know it will also most likely be a touch overwhelming. I’m the kind of person that gets overwhelmed fairly easily. Throw lots of new information at me, and boom. I’m mentally freaking out trying to figure out how to make sense of and organize the information. To help avoid that next week, my goal is going to be spending some time this week creating a binder so I can organize things right away. I’m envisioning sections for: reading, writing, assessment, records keeping, and scheduling.

Hopefully, having a place for things to go will help me be more effective and efficient. Then, I can use my processing time to start figuring out how this vision is going to work for us, instead of freaking out like this: “OMG SO MUCH INFO WHAT DO I DO???”

This next week will also be my time to figure out what I want to include in my new classroom. I know that I want to re-vamp my reading wall. I had this awesome “Where in the World Will Reading Take You” thing with a world map and books set in various countries, but that’s changing. I want to be able to showcase my reading AND my students’ reading. I’m thinking something along the lines of a this-is-what-I’m-reading/have read place where kids can then post their reading and quick reviews.

As much as I love reading, I also want to incorporate more writing things into my classroom theme. This means I need to be writing more, and sharing what I’m writing more (which is definitely intimidating for me!) to help build that writer’s community. I’m not sure how I want to accomplish that yet.

Other things on the list to re-vamp: classroom arrangement (I’m ADD with desk arrangements), physical grade book, align units with Curriculum Companion (more on this later), new bulletin board ideas, classroom library book check-out system. And there will undoubtedly be more added to that list.

The great thing about summer? Everything can be done barefoot, in the sunshine (if it ever decides to come out), with a glass of wine in hand. Glorious.