Waiting for the names

Waiting for the names  - TLG-IMG-08082019This summer I have been fortunate enough to laugh and learn alongside some amazing educators. In my role as a consulting teacher for Center for Responsive Schools, I have had the opportunity to share the Responsive Classroom approach to teaching with almost 80 educators and counting. I have one more trip before the summer is over.

I love this job for so many reasons.

First, I learn so much. Anytime you get a bunch of teachers in a room together, everyone leaves with a new idea. I feel extra lucky to have the opportunity to talk with teachers who have an entirely different perspective from me and see things through a different lens. Hearing their experiences makes me better.

Second, every time I present the Responsive Classroom workshop, I continue to deepen my understanding of that approach to teaching. This is similar to what we say to our students: if you can explain your knowledge to someone else, your learning is expanded. I’m really excited that I will be presenting the week before I head back to school because it will help sharpen my skills when I need it most.

Lastly, I get so excited for the school year. Summer is a time when we reflect on the past year (June), stop thinking about school altogether (July), and start getting excited about the upcoming year (August).

With August here, I am beginning to think more and more about the 2019–20 school year. I’ve started to make lists of things I want to try and things I’ll do differently. Most importantly, I’ve started to think about the names of all my students.

Every August, in the final weeks, I check my online roster daily for my class list to show up. The anticipation gets me every time. Who is going to be on it? What are their likes? Dislikes?

When I see their names for the first time, I begin thinking about the relationships that will be cultivated in my classroom. The relationships between me and the students, and the relationships between the students themselves. Relationships are what I love most about teaching: getting to know who they are, discovering what makes them tick, and being one stop along their journey. (Did you happen to catch Aaliyah Samuel’s most recent blog post, “Put relationship building on your back-to-school to-do list”?)

This is also the year my son will start kindergarten…at my school. We have purchased his school supplies, received his backpack via UPS, and kept up with the summer reading log. I have so many feelings about this milestone and especially about the first day of school. They’re all in a jumble as I think about giving him a hug before he walks to his classroom, and as I think about shifting gears from mother to teacher and preparing to greet my students.

Tweet: Teacher and mother, Natalie DiFusco-Funk (@NDF81), anticipates meeting her new students while walking her own son to his first day of school, just down the hall. https://ctt.ec/XTbKc+ #edchat #education #teachersI know I’ll be full of emotions as I watch him walk down the hall, but I also know that I will be fully present as my new students enter my classroom. I have to be because that’s what I want for my son, too. A teacher who is present and excited to meet him. I know he’ll have that in my school.

I’ve been thinking through this flip-flop lens of mother-teacher a great deal lately. My son’s impending first day of kindergarten snuck up on me, as most milestones in a child’s life tend to do. Just as the end of the summer also has a tendency of doing.

Every August, in the final weeks, I check my online roster daily for my class list to show up. The anticipation gets me every time. Who is going to be on it? What are their likes? Dislikes? This year I’m also wondering: How will my son’s teacher feel when she (there are only female kindergarten teachers in my school!) sees his name? Who else will be in his class? Will he make friends?

So as August moves along, the teacher-me is not-so-patiently waiting for that list to pop up while the mom-me is excited for my son’s name to appear on his teacher’s roster. Both sides of me are equal parts excited and nervous. What calms those nerves? Names. Knowing the people who I will share the next chapter with always brings a sense of calm, always allows me to sit in the present and enjoy the journey.

I am eager to know the new set of characters in my teaching story. I am excited to read those names, say them out loud, and begin writing the next chapter with each and every one of them.