Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cycles and Renewal

In my last post I talked a lot about what a rough but worth it year it has been.  That is definitely true, but so very worth it to see that first graduating class, to see our AP and upper level science classes literally explode when I was worried for a bit if the S in STEM stood for something other than science.  Getting end of the year notes (and tweets) from students, those that I'll have next year and those that I'm just going to hope have amazing lives as they move on out of my orbit.  Helping those last few students get over the line to an A, or even to passing, even if I have to hunt them down and drag them across the finish line.  It is all worth it.

And of course as we wrap up one year that seemed long at the time, but now seems like it just flew past, attention starts to turn to next year.  I think this is one of the most amazing things about teaching, not the summers off per se, but the fact that it is one of the things I've done that was in these discrete packages (quanta, one might say).  When I worked in the medical field or in industry, each day might be slightly different, but on the whole, it was the same process, over and over and there was no real time when you were "done" other than packing up for the night, or handing it over to the next shift.

Teaching though affords us this unique chance to step back and say, this is officially over for this time. I think that allows for so much reflection (which is coming in post form soon), but it also allows so much for a looking forward to the next school year.  Since I'll have all of the mundane paperwork stuff done this morning, inventories and such boredom, I can spend half of my day maybe standing at a whiteboard plotting out the next school year.  I spent 45 minutes or so with a new tweep in Michigan, Dan Meyers (@meyerschemistry) discussing how he teaches organic chemistry and what we would do differently in our Chem I classes.  As a science dept, we are going to get together and do some vertical planning as a department and discuss our new unofficial motto of "pedal down" to illustrate that we really want to challenge our amazing students next year.

It makes me think that seasons for teachers (and maybe for students) are sort of inverted.  Spring for us is harvest time, as we tally up the year's growth, as students go off to  During the summer we till the soil of our minds, thinking of new strategies, new lessons.  We restore nutrients to that soil by reading, by traveling to new places, by sleeping finally!  And then in the fall, things are reborn, it is planting time.  We start to sow seeds for the year's growth, we cultivate to coax maximum growth.

I love this time of year, for the knowledge of the fruitfulness of the year and for the planning of the harvests yet to come next year!

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