Everywhere around me I see signs that the new school year is almost beginning (for some of you reading this, it's already begun). Back to school shopping is in full swing, teachers are talking about having to report to work for PD workshops, and there's an energy in the air that seems to shout, "SUMMER IS OVER! TIME TO SET YOUR ALARM CLOCKS!"
One of the things I will miss about not teaching this year is spending those two weeks before the school year begins getting my classroom ready. The anticipation and excitement of what the school year will hold builds as I organize my classroom and feel the satisfaction of watching that room go from disorder and chaos to my second home filled with books on the shelves and posters on the walls.
This year I won't have that sense of anticipation and satisfaction, so I decided to offer my services to a friend who is setting up a new classroom this year as she was just hired at a new school district.
I interviewed Sarah Andersen here on the blog back in April and she also contributed to my Why I Stay video. She was just offered a position teaching high school English at a new school district and so yesterday I drove to her new school and helped her start the process of making her classroom go from cold, gray walls, to a warm, inviting room filled with books.
I had a great time going through Sarah's books and helping to organize her shelves, and while we weren't able to get everything done yesterday, I hope that was able to help her put a sizable dent in her overwhelming mountain of boxes that took up an entire wall of her classroom.
Organizing a classroom before the school year begins is something all teachers, whether they'd like to admit it or not, look forward to. It is something that, despite knowing our last few days of freedom are coming to a close, helps give us time to wrap our minds around the important job we have ahead of us. Sitting in that empty classroom and watching it transform from the chaos of desks strewn about, books piled in odd places, and posters yet to be hung, to a welcoming place that we can be proud of is a microcosm of what we hope the rest of the school year will be.
When I returned home from my day helping Sarah, I was browsing my Facebook feed and noticed a few of my teacher friends had shared a blog post by another one of my interviewees, Gary Anderson. Gary is beginning his 34th and final year of teaching and his positive, upbeat outlook about not only the year ahead but his career as a whole was thoroughly refreshing and gave me hope. We need to see more teachers like Gary sharing their stories. Given the fact that we find ourselves hearing of public retirement stories from teachers who are leaving the profession out of disillusionment and resentment over the lack of trust left in our profession, stories like Gary's seem few and far between.
I'm on a mission this year to find more Garys out there. To find more teachers who are doing great things despite the fact that the media, politicians, and public opinion tell us otherwise. So if I know you and you're a teacher, don't be surprised if you hear from me soon. I want to come visit your classrooms and see what great things you're doing that, as a teacher, you're probably too humble to tell the world. Let me be your champion because I want teaching to go back to being the revered profession it once was, not fodder for news reporters and politicians.