One of the most memorable things I ever saw on Facebook was a picture of a man hiding under the bed with the caption: “A teacher after they hear someone mention that school is starting next week.” Then there’s the other side of the coin: this week, as school gets ready to begin, I see a lot of posts on Twitter talking about “Great things you can plan to do in your classroom next year.” And where am I? Somewhere in the middle.
I’m teaching first grade again so I don’t have to obsessively worry about the curriculum. I know what I will be teaching. I have decided to order some nice baskets from Really Good Stuff for the table groups. I have decided to start the year with 100% class jobs for everybody. We will be continuing our phonics and independent reading tasks for sure. I will try to go over First Days of School by Harry Wong, the absolute guru of classroom setup and management.
But as I reflect on all these things I also reflect that there’s just a lot I don’t know about what this year will bring. And I’ve never been able to get into planning before the year starts. That’s because I’m never sure what I want to try until I see the students. Before I see them, I am unsure what they will need. Once I see them, I am inspired. It’s then, in the first weeks of school, that I will do the design and setup that others are apparently doing now. And honestly, I think I’m right. To teach a child you have to know the child.