Thursday, September 3, 2009

Back to school thoughts

I have recently realized that many people have already started school.  We haven't yet, which is why there has not been too many posts here.  

Earlier this week, I spent two straight days with Nicole, one of my best friends.  She teaches in a nearby district and recently had knee surgery.  She was nervous about moving the rearranging the furniture in her classroom with the knee being not quite healed.  I have known her since college, shared many teaching experiences with her, and was eager to help.  She has helped me set up my classroom several times over and it was high time I repaid the favor.  

So, on Monday I met her at her house and we went over to her school.  Of course the doors are locked and there are still ongoing miscellaneous construction projects in and around the school so we have to use the back entrance and wind our way through the maze of a basement.  We get to her room and I am ready to work.  She was overwhelmed so I toned it down a bit.  Then it was on, we were moving and rearranging desks, removing chairs that were too small for her students,  trading out one book shelf for another and unpacking boxes.  I marveled at how much we got done and how well we worked together.  

Then it was off to my school.  It was my first time back since I left in June.  And it was my turn to be completely overwhelmed.  I took a few deep breaths and tried to quiet the voice of the frantically crying teacher inside of my head.  We started moving furniture and had a good portion of the center areas set up when the custodian came in and stated that he was not finished with my floor.  I explained that I could leave and that prior to coming, I had called the principal, who assured me that all the floors were done last week.  I was frustrated and he went around the hallway having a grown up temper tantrum.  I offered to leave but he said not to bother so we kept working.  We worked for just over an hour and I was thrilled with how much progress we made.  It is so much easier to do certain things when two people are working together on it.

Also, we have known each other for a long time and so certain things just didn't need to be explained to the other.  I could make a gesture or she could say some vague phrase about how she wanted to arrange the furniture and we were on the same wave length.  On Tuesday we started out at my school and then went to hers.  We were just as productive.  I share these thoughts here because I just love her, she is fabulous and, more importantly it is rare when you find someone who gets you personally and professionally.  When we go to each others' classrooms, we know what is important to the other and throughout the year we have that visual in our minds when we share our stories.  

All of these positive experiences made me think yet again about co-teaching.  When I was in graduate school, I student taught in a classroom with co-teachers and a classroom assistant.  It was a fantastic classroom with high outcomes for all of their students and the model has inspired a deep interest in co-teaching within me.  My teaching assistant is a teaching assistant, and although she is fabulous, she is not interested in all of the teacher responsibilities like planning curriculum, collecting data, and conducting assessments.  If the opportunity presented it self to co-teach with Nicole, I would certainly take it in a heartbeat and I really don't think it would compromise our friendship.  Maybe my next job will involve some co-teaching with another teacher, just to see what that is like.

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