I’ve been trying to capture for myself some of this whirlwind as it rushes by. I can’t help but compare what happened today with what has happened most other “first days” of school. As I’ve mentioned before I work at an awesome new school called the Riverpoint Academy and we just completed our first day. I had the wonderful privilege of working the past nine years at another, albeit quite different high school in Spokane: Lewis and Clark.
My hope is to compare what I have done in the past with what happened today at RA.
Then: Gather my rosters, look through my student photos, stand outside my door and welcome first period in. I would encourage them to sit anywhere they like and depending on the year in school and time of day, they would vary in talkativeness. My desks would likely have been arranged into rows and I would spend each class period giving a brief introduction to my classroom, my rules, and my expectations. I would then spend the next twenty-five or so minutes going through the roster, name by name, calling role slowly so that I could memorize each student’s name. The class would end and thirty students would shuffle out as thirty more shuffled in to take their place. And so, I would retain my post at the door welcoming them in so that I could tell them too all about my little world which they were being welcomed into.
Now: I gather my roster (singular) and mingle with students as they come in to our new building, many for the first time. I start to mingle and make conversation with students, introducing myself as Matt. “I’m one of the teachers here.” I told them and depending on the student I gave a bit more information about our school or the class I get to teach with Glenn. In no time at all we are ready to begin and I encourage students onward to meet in their advisory groups. Our day is spent with students working through various design challenges with many different groups, some they choose and some we choose for them. I blink and its lunch time – – just time enough to find a new student sitting alone, grabbing a chair and striking up conversation. I spent my day today as an advisor. As a generalist. I’m certain that I will be able (and required to) be more specific in teaching content, but for the first time in my teaching career I have been allowed to be just Matt: a teacher at RA. No one is threatened by that, nor did anyone ask me to demonstrate my credentials to ensure that I was qualified to teach them ___________ content.
I’m having trouble capturing everything that was magical about today and at this point at least I’m not exhausted so the difficult stuff we experienced today still seems small and mostly insignificant. To be sure we have faced and will face challenges but my pleasure today in teaching is because I am in fact quite comfortable with ambiguity and confident that we – students and staff together – will figure it out.