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Back in the Swing of Things

Whew!  What a busy week I’ve had!

When last I posted, I was getting ready to embark on a brand new school year, and I was nervous because of additional responsibilities.

Heading out for the first day back!

Well, the first week is finished, and I thought I would share a few of my thoughts.

First of all, I am beginning my fourth year of teaching Intensive Reading.  It’s my fifth year teaching, overall.

I’ve wondered, at times, if the impact I’m making will be long-lasting.  Well, those doubts were answered on Tuesday, the first day of school.

I scarcely got my classroom door unlocked before I was visited by the first of what would become a steady stream of former students.

My first visitor was a precious young man I’d taught two years in a row.  He had come by to tell me about a new Divergent book that he wanted me to order.  The book is a collection of short stories that gives background information about Four, the lead male character in the series.  As soon as my student left, I ordered the book from Amazon…my first book order of the new school year.

His visit was followed by one of the most precious young ladies that Barb taught in middle school and I had the pleasure of teaching last year.

She told me about how she had kept the picture I’d taken the first day of school with her wearing a cap and gown…one of the motivational tools I employ to get my tenth graders to think about the prize at the end of high school.

She said that she had made a poster for her room listing her goals and had placed that picture on the poster.

Oh boy, but I started tearing up.

She then showed me a list of goals she has begun keeping in her backpack as a reminder of what she needs to focus on.  She allowed me to take a picture of it and share it…




I was stunned, to say the least.

This young lady visited me the next day and told me that she and another young man who had been in our class together had discussed how they had not appreciated me last year, when I was annoying them, but how they now realized what a good teacher I had been.

I’ve asked her to come back and speak to my classes next year when she is a Senior.


She was not the first student who echoed the same sentiments, and boy, was I humbled.

I reflected and saw how much I had grown from my first year as an Intensive Reading teacher…when relationship-building was not my primary focus (day-to-day survival during what I refer to as my second first-year).

Some of my toughest students from last year visited me last week…more than once…with huge smiles on their faces.  This was so powerful!

Then, there were my new babies who walked in the door…each a new face for me to learn…a new history to discover.

Boy, did we make headway into the latter as some students opened up immediately about some of the many challenges they have already faced during their short lives…fathers lost to tragic circumstances…people putting them down for their dreams.

My heart is already breaking, and I want to adopt a few of them.

I’m not kidding.

I gave my students the assignment of describing a new thing to learn or a new experience to have, the obstacles they are facing in the pursuit of said thing, and a plan for overcoming the obstacles.

Folks, I learned even MORE about my students through this exercise.

Take a look at the beautiful opening one of my students began his assignment with…

Dreams, people, dreams.

I can’t say we did a lot in the way of reading “instruction.”  I did teach my students Barb’s “P” Before You Read strategies and demonstrated them with our new Read Aloud, Allison van Diepen’s book Vampire Stalker

By the time we finished previewing the book, students were begging me to begin reading it!!!  We came up with a couple of questions for Ms. van Diepen, and I was shocked when she responded to my Tweets, sent after work, almost immediately!

I am not an author stalker…I promise…even though I would fall out flat if Neal Shusterman ever favorited, retweeted, or responded to a Tweet of mine.

Heck…Jay Asher and I had a conversation last night through Twitter.

I am in awe, and my students will be too when they learn that I “talked” to the author of 13 Reasons Why.

But I digress…

What we mostly focused on was getting familiar with my procedures, developing some new ones together, and engaging with one another in meaningful conversations.

I know, from experience, that if I don’t spend quality time doing these things, I won’t have students coming back the next year…lessons firmly planted in their hearts.

It was a completely wonderful and exhausting week…one that ended with me sleeping thirteen hours on Friday night and only now feeling refreshed enough to begin anew tomorrow…grading complete and new seating charts made (when you hear yelling, it will be my students doing it).

Oh Friday, how I love thee.

How I spent Sunday…grading…

Week One is in the books…with many, many more ahead of me before June arrives.

One Response

  1. So satisfying to have former students pop in and state the difference you’ve made in their lives. Your efforts are appreciated and noticed: keep up the great work!

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