I am sitting here in my classroom. The lights in the hallways are all off, there are very few teachers in the building, the whole place is filled with the erie quiet that comes with a lack of children. My classroom looks empty. Partly because I have yet to unpack all the things that I packed up at the end of last school year and partly because a classroom that is devoid of students will just always feel empty.
As I sit here in the quiet, I look around at the empty walls and the empty shelves and the empty chairs and I am overwhelmed by the sheer volume of possibility that it all holds. There is so much that can happen in this space over the next ten months. There is so much that has yet to be decided, yet to be uncovered, yet to be discovered. And all of that is so exciting and (as it often seems to go), so very terrifying.
This summer has been life changing for me. As I explained in my last post, my summer has been one filled with learning. A summer where I have spent sleepless nights thinking about the kind of classroom that I want to be a part of, about the kind of teacher that I want to be, and about the kind of learning that I want to take place in our classroom. A summer that has made me want to run back to my classroom and dig in.
And now I am here.
Now comes the hard part. Now is when I have to take all of that excitement that lived inside of my head and turn it in to action. Now is when I have to stop thinking about the kind of classroom that I want to live in each day and start creating it instead. Now is when I have to be brave enough to leave what I know behind in favor of what I know could be better. Now is when everything I have learned this summer has to be put into the teaching and learning that will begin in a few weeks with my students.
And I can’t help but wonder, “Will it be enough?”
Will the things that I have learned this summer and thought about this summer and wrote about this summer be enough to help me make the kind of changes that I want to make? Do I know enough to do the kinds of things that I want to do? Will the connections with other people that I have made this summer be enough to get me through a year of change and learning and growing? Will they sustain me when I feel like giving up? Am I confident enough to make changes that I do not know will bring guaranteed success? Am I strong enough to weather the setbacks and failures that are guaranteed to come with change? Will the visions in my head be enough to motivate me to make the changes that might be scary or hard?
The answer is simple: Of course not.
These things alone won’t ever be enough, because as I sit here alone, I am missing the most important factor in the success of the coming school year.
I think the reason that this all seems so scary is because there are no students sitting here with me. They are the ones that will help me to figure it all out. They are the ones that will tell me what they need and help me to figure out how to best bring those things to them. They are the ones that will fill these classroom walls with heart and laughter and hopes and the motivation to take risks because it will make them better learners and better people. We are in this together with them.
So yes, I can begin to envision what I want this classroom community to become. I can think about how I want to ensure that my students feel worthy and valued and heard and important. I can get rid of my desks and bring in tables that will promote collaboration and community. I can start to plan activities that will help them to see their own strengths and follow their own passions. But those things will never be enough without the energy, the joy, the challenge, the motivation that will walk into my classroom along with those two classes of 33 fifth graders on August, 27th.