Friday, September 5, 2008

Week Two: Routine and Relationship

It is only the second week of school and already it feels like we have been here for months. In some ways that is depressing -- if we are already a bit tired and a bit overwhelmed, how will we feel in March? But mostly, it is a reassuring feeling for me. The first week is filled with unknowns and the second week is filled with establishing routine and relationships. The wildness of week one has settled down and now I can start getting to know the young people in my classroom, getting to know who they are, how they dream, what motivates them and what is too much for them. I will spend the rest of the year doing this -- routine and relationships.

By routine, I am not implying that each minute of the class period is perfectly scheduled and offers no variance from day to day. I believe students should walk into class each day eager for what awaits, not dreading what they expect. However, as a former department chair of mine used to always say, I want them to know that in this classroom "this is what we do." Our methods for achieving our learning goals may look different each day, but I hope my students have a common understanding of the expectations we have of each other and the standard to which we are holding ourselves. I believe there is comfort in this, for myself and for my students. This is how we establish routine.

We aren't completely there yet -- I am discovering so much about my students and they are discovering who I am as their teacher. And I am sure that there is still a question about "what we do" in this class, but as we spend time each day engaged in reading, writing, thinking and sharing together, we move toward this common understanding and will be inspired to take risks and do our best in the safe and nurturing space of our classroom.

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