Notes before my first new teacher workshop in decades

Tomorrow, I will do something I haven’t done for well over 20 years: report to a school’s new teacher workshop as a learner, not someone leading the learning.

(Okay, I’ll do some leading. The position I’m moving into kinda requires it. First and foremost, though, I’ll be the new guy.)

If you’ve done this before, you know what my next few days will be like. I’ll get equipment checked out to me, I’ll do some icebreakers, I’ll be let into my classroom for the first time (I have a couple sections of high-school English), I’ll unload a few crates’ worth of resources into bookcases and filing cabinets, I’ll listen to admin talk about crucial policies and procedures, I’ll look over available materials to start sketching units, all that.

…and damn, I’m excited. I seriously can’t wait to get going at my new place.

Don’t get me wrong: I love doing all the other stuff I’m up to in education, and I fully intend to keep doing it all. Over the past few years, though, which included writing this book, visiting with many former students and colleagues to do so, and learning scads more about our enterprise and myself, I realized some things had to change with my full-time work. If I was really going to be the anti-ed-bullshit guy and more directly contribute to the bottom-up improvement stuff I’m always ranting about, basically, I was going to have to find something more concentrated, continual, and contextually driven.

Such work is hard to come by in education’s current top-down milieu, of course, but I found an opportunity where I can do just that. A young charter school I’ve done some consulting for here in the Twin Cities metro is committing resources toward building some vital ‘pillars’ (e.g., research-guided teacher-development processes, knowledge-rich K-12 curriculum, etc.) internally, and they are bringing me aboard to assist with design and execution (and, as mentioned earlier, some teaching [!]). As I’m all about building practices up from a unifying vision (again, see my new book for a fuller justification), I’m both encouraged by the school’s brave commitment and thrilled to be a part of it all. Watch this space for updates on how it’s all going.

Now, though, I have to get washing clothes and getting ready for tomorrow. I can’t wait to be a new teacher again.

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