I have been in and out of the classroom the last few years. After a four-year stint as a Curriculum Integration Specialist in a public school, I moved to a charter school to teach. Then, a year and a half later, I moved to my current position, Director of Teaching and Learning at a private school. I couldn’t be happier in my current role. It is challenging, in a good way. It’s inspiring. I work around visionary people. People who ask hard questions and have high expectations.
But, some days I miss being in the classroom. I miss individual relationships with students. I miss seeing their growth. Sometimes I miss the comfort of shutting my door and teaching. I miss sharing my passions with students and encouraging theirs. I miss the things left on my desk: the drawings, the notes, and the Reese’s Pieces. I miss making Aztec hot chocolate and Jan Brett books and decorating my classroom. Every day I am reminded of small things I miss, but there a few things I miss often.
Read Alouds– I adore reading. I crave it. I feel incomplete when I don’t have a novel to read and I feel sad when books end. I used to get some of my fix with classroom read alouds: Lemony Snicket, 39 Clues, The Willoughby’s, and the City of Ember. I miss my students gathered on the carpet listening to me read. I miss them begging to read another chapter. I miss their moans and groans when a chapter ended. I miss the connections we made with the characters. I miss my word wizards, always on the hunt for the juicy words in what we read. I miss the quiet and calm and the feeling of being enveloped by words during read alouds.
School Exhibitions– I can’t count how many school or classroom exhibitions I have been a part of. There is so much magic when kids create and share what they know through exhibitions. I have done them at three schools now and have tried various iterations of the exhibition process with students. But, I am no longer guiding students through this on a daily basis. Showing them examples of high quality exhibitions. Challenging them to be like museum curators and keep their labels to 50-100 words. I am not there to help them work through design challenges. I don’t get to always see the group dynamics anymore or how one student shines at content and another at display.
Writing Blocks– The last few weeks I have missed this more than anything else about teaching. We adopted a new writing series this year and I have been in classrooms every day watching writing instruction. It’s made me miss this time of the day with my own students. I see our teachers at the gathering area with their little writers learning about the power of words, sharing ideas, writing together and my heart breaks just a bit. I have seen beautiful lessons lately that give me goosebumps. When I see a teacher pull out Owl Moon and talk about mood and setting and building a small moment, I remember all those same conversations I had with my students. I miss sitting down and conferencing with students. I miss sharing my writing journals and encouraging students to see the world as writers. I miss finding the perfect picture book to teach author’s craft. I miss mini-lessons and sharing time. I miss having an author’s chair in my room.
Stories– I know. I know. I am already seeing the pattern of stories popping up in my blog posts! My students used to tell me the best stories. About their lives outside of school. About their families. Weekend adventures. Sometimes they were painful stories. Stories I didn’t always know how to respond to. Siblings and parents in jail. Parents that had passed away. Sometimes the stories were poignant. New siblings and family dinners. Sometimes they were hilarious. Turkey shoots and hair fiascos. I was always amazed at what my students chose to tell me. In the moment I didn’t always see the connections between the stories, when and how they were told. I don’t think I always paid attention to what those stories meant, how they were related to what we were doing in class or how they viewed me.