When a new school year approaches, I often drift back to work a little early. You probably do too.
You may already be checking your mailbox, arranging your desks, and reconnecting with other staff members. You might be shopping for supplies, browsing through catalogs, or gathering ideas on social media. Perhaps you are spending some time at your desk mentally taking in a few of the many layers of classroom life.
While classroom dynamics require teachers to focus on multiple layers simultaneously, this unique time of year offers a rare luxury to teachers: the opportunity to focus on only one or two of those layers at a time.
This makes me wonder which of these statements about returning to school during summer vacation may be most true for you. Please feel free to respond below. I’d love to hear your comments.
- I enjoy the relaxed time to work.
- I need the time to mentally prepare.
- I rest easier knowing that I’ll have so much work already finished when it’s time to return.
Preparing your classroom environment for the new school year is very important – and you are probably very good at it. Experience tells me that if I could step into your classroom there is a very good chance that I would quickly discover several clever, unexpected ideas that I could quickly transfer to my own practice. They would make my life easier.
As you develop those ideas, remember that you are also surrounded by other classrooms that are filling up with ideas that could make your life easier. The seed of a very helpful idea or strategy may be waiting on the wall next door, on the shelf of a classroom down the hall, or on the desk of the teacher across the hall. It may be the very idea that you will soon wish you had discovered a long time ago.
The ideas are waiting for you.
Yet, during this time of the year, we often walk right by those classrooms and never see those ideas.
So, I have a challenge for you.
As you are walking through your school, I challenge you to stop and take 7 steps into another classroom. Those 7 steps can lead you into an environment ripe with ideas at the very time you are able to think about them. Those 7 steps can lead you into a conversation with the teacher who has the experience to guide you into implementing those ideas successfully. Of course, the best part may be that those 7 steps will also give you an opportunity to share about, and reflect on, some of your own strategies.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to walk right by those classrooms without realizing the potential that is just inside each door.
So I challenge you to take those 7 steps. Take a moment and step into a classroom that you don’t normally visit.
You can say, “I just read a blog post about gathering ideas from other classrooms. It said I should step another classroom and simply ask, ‘What are you working on?’”
The timing might just be perfect. After all, the teacher in that classroom is probably focusing on the same layer of teaching as you: preparing the classroom to run as smoothly as possible.