Long gone are the desks arranged in pairs with which I traditionally start the year. My desk, a mammoth piece of furniture, and its trusty sidekick, a oversized faux leather swivel chair were kicked to the curb before school began. Standing tables are in the back of the room with bright blue bar height stools. A book nook now anchors the back corner complete with pillows. Kids sit at tables and can opt for either a chair or a stool. Other students choose the front of the room where they sit on brightly colored rugs at coffee tables.
In my own teaching this week and last, I have been immersed in BreakoutEDU library orientations. Our students are excited, energetic and collaboratively engaged, full of questions and ideas. Perhaps this is why I am so focused of late on the idea of "I don't know" and the teenage brain. I also share a new podcast discovery and an article with insight into PBL planning.
Last year our school made a big effort to build community among the faculty, staff, students and families. We are a large middle school of over 1250 students, serving grades 7 and 8, with half of our student body changing every year, These are challenges to creating a sense of community, yes, but not insurmountable ones. In the end, we feel that we ended the year stronger and more united than we first walked in the door.
In our district, we start back to school today, Tuesday, September 6. Like many teachers, I am incredibly excited to start the year but at the same time, I feel pulled in a million different directions. Like me, this week's Take5 is all over the place -- I've got my mind on liberal arts education, new teachers, strategies for combating unintentional racism in the classroom, literacy, and the incredible power of questioning.