August thinking is different from June and July. I think about school in those early summer months, but in a different way than in August. This summer, I spent a lot of time working with colleagues on curriculum and planning for the new year, but in June and July, it is all very abstract. The new school year is so far away that it doesn’t “feel” like it is real. There is no depth to it. It is simply an idea in the distance.
When August arrives, all of that changes. The abstract and distant becomes present. August is when teachers begin to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat: they are in front of a class with no lesson plan or more often, no clothes on. They are in some way or another scared and vulnerable in the midst of hallways full of children with no way to gain control.
That is where August thinking comes in. For me, it is time to slowly start picking back up the “balls” that I juggle during the school year, ones that I consciously dropped in June to give myself a rest. For June and July, I read, building a deeper understanding of how other educators are tackling the challenges of the classroom. It was reading based on curiosity rather than need. I have reading a collection of books: Fires in the Mind by Kathleen Cushman, Thrive by Meeno Rami, Grading Smarter, Not Harder by Myron Dueck and reviewing my own book with Kristen Swanson, Unleashing Student Superpowers. All of them gave me ideas to improve my thinking about my classroom and myself as a teacher, ideas that are recorded and filed away in July and August.
In August, however, all of those thoughts start to sizzle! They begin to come alive, They want to be put into action; they want to leave the page and become real, living parts of what happens in my classroom. I am doing a lot more thinking about grading. Teaching in a college-preparatory school, grades are still continued the means through which information is communicated. I want to find the best ways to have that communication happen that will support the learning and empowerment of my students. I also am rethinking my homework policies. I have to confess to giving homework more as a rote activity of my own. It was simply something that I did. I want to make sure that each assignment has a learning goal before I assign it. I am sure I will write more about this throughout the year. I also have signed up with Edublogs. I want to try student blogging. I am excited about the audience that that can give to my students.
I am excited for this school year! Supporting student learning and growth is one of the most exciting aspects of what I do in school, and it will be fascinating to see what the students bring about this year.
Here’s to another year in the classroom!
Hello Mrs. Hadley,
It’s me Brittney Henderson; from the University of South Alabama! It’s really refreshing reading about your personal experiences that you have inside your classroom! Especially this particular blog post! I often wonder if I will be nervous doing my first couple of years teaching.(which I will) I enjoy reading your blog posts; because. on this particular one you share the emotions you feel every year school when preparing to start a new journey! How were you able to discover a plan to keep your students engaged in learning as will as having classroom management? Those two factors are my biggest fears I have. Once again, it is a pleasure reading your blog posts!
I find that the key to classroom management is to know that you are the adult in the room. It isn’t about asserting power, as much as knowing that these are middle school students who want to learn and be smart. I start with that premise and go from there. If they are bored, they act out. If they are confused, they act out. Respect them as students and hold the bar high. They will aim for it.
Good luck with your work!