At the start of a new school year I like to recall a key phrase my friend and team teaching partner of eight years, Lindsay used to say as we got our middle school programs up and running. "Make haste slowly'', was his reminder that in a system that annually reconfigures and juggles pre-adolescent kids into groups of thirty, taking the time to let them settle as a new group, establish routines and expectations is more important than launching head first into meeting explicit curriculum goals. Of course, an innovative teacher can subtly combine the two elements but it's a big mistake to think that getting a spelling program or unit of mathematics started is a bigger priority than working on the classroom agreement, personal goal setting for the year and generally scoping out the social and learning dynamics of the new classroom.
So, after Parent/Teacher interviews, helping to set up two days on student leadership, type up a class newsletter, initial testing, establishing class meeting procedures, negotiating an Agreement about class rules and formulating a class vision and setting up numerous other little tasks that add up to a chunk of time, I sincerely hope that I don't continue to work at this pace for the remainder of 2009. It's one thing to be working hard and feeling ke you're getting somewhere towards the top of the pile but when every piece of "spare time" goes towards this constant state of re-invention instead of watching the occasional television program (I did get to see the first episode of Underbelly on Friday after recording it on Monday), reading a book (Here Comes Everybody would be better titled Here Comes Nobody as it languishes on the bedside table) or even responding to some of my favourite edubloggers. As I remarked to my tandem teaching partner, Kim and next door co-planning buddy, Maria, "I hope we find some sort of rhythm soon or we're gonna be stuffed by Easter."
Anyway, I'd better get ready for my CEGSA meeting which will be followed by an appearance at my school's Governing Council's AGM. Although after one meeting after school and a quick dash to my youngest son's school to meet his teacher, I'm not sure when this slowdown is going to occur!
P.S. Turns out my CEGSA meeting is not for another week. Shame I didn't work this out earlier - building Speed Racer Lego vehicles with my youngest would have been a more enjoyable option.