In a little over an hour the first bell of the year will sound. Today is an extra special day because my daughter will start kindergarten just down the hall from my classroom. I think about all of the work I have done over the past five years since I joined this field and try to compare it to all of the work I did before I became a teacher, you see I have a varied professional past. I was a web designer, then a developer, then a cook and and finally a sous chef. When my wife and I got pregnant six years ago I decided to pursue a notion I had had all of my life, which was to become a teacher.
I am one of those teachers that people label as unorthodox. I wear pink wigs, let kids sit wherever they want, play soccer at recess, take them on walks, and use "alternative teaching methods." However, I also tirelessly try to re-invent the wheel. I have intensely studied curriculum ideas and thousands of my peer's lessons. I go to every professional development conference I can, I work on Saturdays and all summer long, for what? Sure to become a better educator, but I have a more selfish purpose. I want my daughter and my son to go to school in a place that Michelle Cordy calls an ecosystem of yearning.
I decided three years ago that doing away with desks and getting tables would foster collaboration. Classroom hack. I approached my principal and asked if I could paint a wall in my room green. Classroom hack. I purchased alternative seating options for my students and built a table at standing height for my little squirmers to work at. Classroom hack. I started using a lot of technology to assist me in my lessons. Classroom hack. I did away with behavior charts and reward systems. I started teaching in small groups instead of whole class instruction. I plan to introduce Legos and gamify my instruction this year. Was this hard to do? Yes. it was extremely hard to do. But the benefits it offers my students are unmeasurable.
As I sit here and wait for 22 new children to walk through my classroom door on the first day of school I have nothing planned, but I am in such a calm place about it. I feel like I have been able to create a place for them that has meaning, fosters belonging, and provides opportunities for hands on experiences that encourage a self guided need for elaboration. If you have not watched Michelle's Ignite talk from Iste2013, it is a must see. (minute 20)
This work that we do is so challenging. More challenging than parsing through thousands of lines of code written in multiple languages on different platforms, more challenging than designing corporate logos and layouts, more challenging than six 14 hour days in a row in a professional kitchen. It is the hardest work I have ever done, but I love it.
It is my calling.
It is my itch that must be scratched.