Getting back, or starting a new schedule is hard. On Monday of this week, students came back to school and I started my own graduate courses. It has been a bit of an adjustment trying to get back into the full swing of things. Timing my mornings to get out the door so I don't hit too much traffic, figuring out how much coffee is needed to get me though the day and how much is too much, and deciding what tasks need to be done at work and which ones can wait until my kids go to bed are just a few of the things I have been struggling to figure out this week.
These adjustments have to be made every year. Teachers are working to get their own schedules figured out, students are trying to get back to getting up early, and everyone is trying to build relationships to better understand what type of supports each student and teacher need to have in place to ensure a successful school year.
This week I was thinking about when I was a classroom teacher, how exciting and nerve wracking the first week was for me. I always wanted to make a good impression on my students and start the year off in a way that would help create a class culture of support and safety. Now, as a technology coach, I find myself being nervous for my teachers. I want them to have a smooth first week so it can set the tone for the school year. I want them to know that they have support when they need it.
Our school is blessed that we have 4 educators who can support the teachers in so many different ways. We have a media specialist, math coach, literacy coach, and me. I wish I had that when I was in the classroom and I wish every teacher had that in their buildings. I know that as a classroom teacher, I often felt alone. In fact, I tell the story of my hunt for blogging resources as a middle school English teacher. The time I spent researching and figuring out how to use multiple tools, only to find out that many of them did not do what I needed, took from the time I should have spent grading, planning, and enjoying my family.
I should have been able to ask someone for help. That person, regardless of what type of coach they were, could have helped me with the research and exploring the different options. Of course, at this time, I was not a connected educator either. I did not have a Twitter account or any other social media tool that I used for talking to others. Those steps could have been done through social media tools, but the implementation would have still been on me in my room alone.
The best part about having a coach, is that you can call on that person to be there so if something doesn't go right you are not alone. There were a few classes this week where teachers were setting up their digital tools with students and I just stayed in their rooms in case a student didn't understand, missed a step, or needed something reset. It doesn't seem like a big deal unless you have been in a room with 30 or more kids trying to set up a new tech resource while still focusing on the content. Sometimes it goes smoothly with 0 problems, but many times there are questions flying at you about things you did not think would be problems.
For teachers who don't have a teacher's assistant, co-teacher, coach, or other support who can come into the room during the lesson with them, students can also serve as helpers in these scenarios. In fact, even when I am in a room co-teaching, I have asked students to look to each other for help with some of these questions.
The first week of school is all about starting to build that community and that trust. Students will learn quickly which rooms they are going to be empowered, valued, and supported in and which classes they will not. Teachers are also seeking support and they will quickly learn who will provide it and who will not.
This week has been hectic, crazy, and a little stressful, but so far I feel like it is going to be a great school year because we are working to build a community of trust and kindness. If you know you can trust the people you are working with and they will treat you with kindness, everything else is easy to get through.