I find myself at the end of the first four days of school, exhausted and excited.
This week children entered my classroom with new backpacks, new shoes and neatly combed and perfectly braided hair.
This week name tags beckoned students to their new place in a brand-new grade. New notebooks, book baggies, and a basket full of writing tools were waiting.
We started by defining what we value. What we need to be successful, what we want to achieve and what we can give our community. Each child has a history. Each child brings hope — to grow and become. The community is new, but the needs continue. This week, I celebrate the beginnings of community and the continuation of growth in a new classroom.
At the end of last school year, I visited my soon-to-be students and gave them a writer’s notebook for the summer. All summer I sent them letters with tips for writing. As I put those 60 letters in the mailbox each week, I wondered if they made a difference. Was this too old fashioned to get students’ attention? I wondered if they would walk in with their summer notebooks empty or not at all. I wondered.
This week we started with writing and a student asked, “Should we use our summer notebooks?” My heart jumped. They remembered.
Some students wanted to continue in their summer notebook. Others wanted a new one for the school year. Some summer notebooks were half filled with writing. Others were untouched. One student left the carpet, and the brightly colored letters tumbled out.
After school, a parent told me, “Every day my daughter would say, ‘Let me get the mail!’ She was so excited to get those letters!”
Another parent said, “He feels like he knows you already, so starting the school year was easier.”
On Friday, students were finishing up an assessment. One boy handed me his work and asked, “Can we write?”
While I can’t quantify the effect of the summer notebooks for the class as a whole, these comments are cause for celebrating the continuation of students’ writing lives in a new classroom.
This week, students reclaimed their book baggies. They had chosen these books at the
end of the school year.
By Friday, enough students had finished books for a book swap/talk. We celebrated and posted recommendations on our “Twitter board.” This beautiful beginning would not have happened without the solid practices of previous teachers and support of parents. This week I celebrate the continuation of reading in a new classroom.
This week we set the stage for the first round of student-instigated Genius Hour learning, we started with what we are passionate about and what bothers us. I love this list. From the necessary — food– to the sophisticated — robots. From local issues — recess play areas– to global concerns — human trafficking. This week I celebrate the passions and potential in all kids.
Finally, this week, a student stopped by to show his former teachers his new school pennant. “It’s the best university in the world.” He was so proud. We are so proud. He made our week!
This week I celebrate students and all they bring to us every day.
Reflecting on and celebrating the week allows me to see and value each day. Thank you, Ruth, for this beautiful practice. Find more celebrations here.