The Important Thing

After the Labour Day weekend, my school year officially starts. Staff only on Tuesday, Grade 9 orientation on Wednesday and the full meal deal on Thursday.

It’s exciting, and daunting, and a million other things.

I spent two days in my school this week, in sessions about literacy, anxiety and even math. Three out of four of them were in my classroom, where it was interesting to take the students’ seat and be a learner. It looks different from the back corner.

I also spent some time with our LMS open, looking at the little pictures of my students’ faces.

It’s exciting, and daunting, and a million other things.

May 2012_0142.JPG

This picture is in my classroom, reminding me of one of the finest classes I ever taught. I miss them, and they inspire me.

I was talking to a coworker whose daughter graduated in June, and in that conversation fully realized that she’s not back next year. Neither are her classmates who I adored so much. Amazing how some students seem to become the heartbeat of your school in the time that they’re there.

And they leave, making room for new students to take up that heartbeat.

In one of my sessions, a trio of the newbies to my building were amongst us as we were asked how we were starting things off next week. Watching them look for their answers, I wondered about my own. Two of the courses I’m launching next week are full of students I know. We’re picking up where we left off, charging into great new things. I know our starting points.

I’ve also got a class of Grade 9 students, brand new to our building. A couple dozen unknown entities will be sitting in my nice new furniture, me not knowing them, them not knowing me. All we have is the rumours and rumblings of a small town, and an agreement that I will be their teacher, they my students. I’m not so sure where we’re beginning.

It’s exciting, and daunting, and a million other things.

Because here’s the thing. All my planning, all the shop talk, it all comes down to the students. I’ve been saying for the past little while that teaching is a human endeavour, and it is a thing that I am constantly reminded of. Curriculum exists, outcomes are there, pedagogy is foundational, but without the humans in the room, how much does that matter?

The most important thing in what we do is working with those young people. We help them learn and grow, and develop into the people they become. We hope that the books that we put in front of them inspire them to be the best humans they can be. We put pages in front of our writers, hoping that they fill them with their souls, that they feel proud, and find a way to express themselves, or make sense of the world they live in.

I was looking at those little pictures in our LMS. I saw faces I’ve missed over the summer, who I’m excited to give the things we’ve been planning. I noted the absence of faces that aren’t in our building anymore. There were faces who brought other kinds of emotions forth. Maybe we’ll have more battles this year. I hope not. And, there’s that whole class of faces I don’t know yet!

I know all those faces will need different things from me in this human endeavour. I can plan it now, but it might not happen. Something more important might come up. What if they’re all master poets? Do we do more poetry, or less to keep them from being bored? Half of the planning at this stage is a running loop of if/then statements in my brain.

It’s exciting, and daunting, and a million other things.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Would you?

Leave a comment below or find me on Twitter @doodlinmunkyboy!

Good luck in the human endeavour,

Jay

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