Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Where do I begin?

Ten days from now I will greet a classroom full of my very own first graders. I'm excited for sure, but I'd be lying if I denied that there was a bit of anxiety in the corner of my mind.

I've done this before, but it's been a while, so it is like starting fresh. Lucky for me my recent role as district literacy coach had me spending much of my time  new teachers. We spent our time together studying literacy instruction and learning and working together in their classrooms. One thing I learned is that if we don't understand why something works, we're likely to abandon it or modify the effectiveness right out of it.

I'll consider what I know about effective literacy instruction, focusing first on how the environment supports and encourages learning. It will be important to create a literacy-rich space and to think carefully about what materials we'll need in the first days and weeks of school. In order for learning to take place, I'll need a well-organized space that can grow with us over the year.

It is also important to me that my classroom be a place for joyful learning. Both parts are important, and while I do spend a lot of time thinking deliberately about the learning part, it can be easy to forget that creating an environment that is also full of joy can be a deliberate act.

Later today I will get the key to my new room. I will stand in the doorway and begin to think about my first steps in creating a place full of joy and rigorous learning. I'll imagine how it will feel to stand in that doorway 10 days from now, greeting each child, and I will consider what they will first see and hear and experience as they step into our room. I will walk around the empty space imagining how we'll work together in whole groups and small groups and as individuals. Before I can create the kind of environment I want, I need to envision how it will look and sound and feel.

I can't wait.

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