New School Year = New Products

A great thing about being a teacher is the fresh start each Fall. After a summer to rest and reflect, I am ready to start again. New group of students. New families to meet. In two days, we hold an Open House and then Monday, the 2022-2023 school year begins.

A frustrating thing about being a teacher is the many new initatives shared at the start of the Fall. After just three days of pre-service meetings, I feel a little overwhelmed. New staff to support. New schedule to unpack. New resources purchased by the district to start using.

One resource is called PAPER. I dutifully logged into the zoom meeting at 12:30pm yesterday (as my tummy rumbled thinking I should be giving it attention) to learn about it. The perky product rep taught me that PAPER is an educational technology company that partners with schools and school districts to provide students with free, unlimited, 24/7 tutoring. The platform has more than two million users across the United States. The company is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec and has operations across North America. And with further research, I learned that their tutors are paid $17.50 per hour and one can hold an undergraduate degree or be working toward it. I also learned that this platform works much like when I chat with my cable company. I type in the chat box. They type back. I wonder if they are really there? or is it just a computer generating responses?

As my 3rd day of teaching meetings ended, I am feeling excited to support my staff and students this year in person. I wonder if online support will soon replace the way I’ve been able to teach my students for the past 30 years? I wonder if a company like TEAMS will soon offer online schooling to replace the brick and mortar community I have always worked in? What is the future of education?

For now, I will greet day 4 of my pre-service time with a smile and the determination to make the 2022-2023 school year the best I can.

Start of school…a rollercoaster

Rollercoaster…that was the metaphor another Slicer used last week to describe her new school year. As I read Erika’s words HERE, I thought how It fits for me too.

It is risky to even go on such a ride. And first you must meet the height requirements. It is risky this year to teach in-person. And there are the health requirements. Must be vaccinated. Must wear a mask. 800+ students, at an age when they aren’t the best at following rules, arrive in-person to learn. Crowded hallways. Outdoor lunch. Some vaccinated. Many not old enough yet. Click…click…click.. click. Up the hill, the coaster climbs, as I walk, white-knuckled, into my classroom each day.

Then I feel the rush. Whoosh…..down the hill….exhillaration. Along with teaching three classes of students, I am my school’s new literacy coach, supporting four groups of adults. Last week, I felt such a high from listening to the grade-level ELA teachers. I asked questions. I offered ideas. It’s been 8 years since I’ve been a coach and it was like riding a bike. It felt natural and freeing and rewarding to support adults. My insecure side worried. Would I have anything to offer? But my 20+ years of experience kick into gear. How about this authors? Another strategy you could try is ____ . I know stories. I know strategies. I easily shared and those at the meeting departed, feeling their load was lifted a bit because of my support. Whoosh!

My Inner Child

I buttoned my Peter Pan-collared white shirt. I pulled my maroon and gray plaid jumper over my head. I pulled up my matching marron socks, slid on my loafers and slipped my arms into the maroon sweater. My 7-year old self felt ready for school. As I arrived, all the girl’s outfits matched. We lined up next to the boys dressed in white shirts, navy slacks and maroon ties. It looked like we were on the same team. I felt like I belonged on this team. Belonging is important.

However, my adult-self wonders about that child. Sitting all day in her classroom taught by white nuns and surrounded by white kids. Learning to read with the Dick and Jane readers to then graduate to textbooks sharing a one-side white history of America.

This summer I’ve been reading antiracist history books and listening to antiracist podcasts. Now I see that girl in the jumper differently. Now I see my adult-self as someone who needs to know more. Someone who needs to wake up and stand up for all. 

  NOTE: I wrote this piece during a PD called Trauma Informed Writing Workshop offered by Arlene Casimir, a staff developer at TCRWP. (She is offering this PD 2x more on Friday, August 14th, $50. I recommend).

1. With my non-dominate hand, sketch myself as a child. (a quick 1-minute sketch)
2. Name the age of the child in my sketch.
3. With my non-dominate hand, write the story this child wants to tell.
4. Ask yourself after writing, what does this child need to hear?
I followed these steps and also added my own adult-self reflection in this slice.