After being away from the classroom for 2 years I have felt some new resolution around the first clumsy days of school. When I say clumsy; students and educators alike are often getting our feet wet, understanding what we are to be doing, where to go, who to talk to and how to manage new demands.
It is not an upstream battle, we can do better than that.
I looked at previous lesson plans and thought “what in the heck was I thinking?”… I loaded pounds of instructional expectations with the depth of objectives within the first two weeks, although this may seem pedagogically wise, it was horribly harmful, and instructional thickness simply went against the grain. This includes the breadth of procedures and transitions we often expect of students. In the past, I would load rules, and procedures to the class as quickly as feasible. I still completed the responsive classroom by getting to know kids, participating in standard morning meeting and greetings. Except, the immersion of skills was too fast and too fierce.
After enough time away to step back and reflect it became clear; we all need to breathe, find moments of calm, silence, dancing, celebration, more model, less pushing, redefining reflection and ramping up relationship building. It was also discovered students are quite similar to us teachers in that kids seek a safe sanctuary. So we have been working on calm and expectation absorption collectively…
The results of creating a responsive, ‘non-rush’/no push’ first few days have been much more successful. While slowing down typical lesson immersion versus living by the curriculum routine or diving into deep rules, and policies. The development of comfortable silence, collaboration, student talking time has resulted in moving slow to move fast.
So the story is: consider stopping the push, release the self-guilt for the need to front-load curriculum and instead allow for absorption of information, the process of procedures, and let the entire classroom ecosystem endure all of the changes and endeavors they are facing in real-time. No loud voices, no frustration, no going against the grain: leave time, allow breaks, expect the unexpected and embrace it, let up on the pressure and see what happens. Even just for a ‘trial’ day!