Monday, August 19, 2013


Today we officially begin meetings and back to school prep. I went in two days last week to unpack boxes and set up my room, and I've spent a few days at home working on our reading and writing notebooks. Our contracts officially started on the 15th, and some of our teams started meeting then. We have a full week of meetings and work time this year, with an orientation/open house on Friday.

I wonder what is the best way to prep for the school year. My first school had very few before school meetings; we sometimes had one day of PD, but our only contracted days were days with students and official learning improvement days. I went to graduate school in Vermont each summer, and rarely got back with much time to spare. I have friends that have a week or two of prep time before a kid even walks in the door. I have personally come in three weeks early, and only one day early. One year I missed the first two days of school for a wedding.

One more week to get ready for students.

Perhaps most typically, a school that has time before school starts begins with a mix of meetings and PD, with time to work in classrooms and on planning fit in around the edges. There's often pressure, I think, to justify the time by bringing in an expert to present a new program. If teachers are in a meeting, then they aren't goofing off somewhere.

Some of this thinking, though, is indicative of a lack of respect for teachers as professionals. (And, sadly, some teachers fail to always act like professionals.) As experts in our fields, and in classrooms, there should be no more important work than what we do in planning specifically for our classrooms. I'm not talking about covering bulletin boards and organizing classroom libraries, though that's important too. I'm talking about sitting down and deciding what to teach on day one. And after day one, sitting down and reflecting on the day, and on the kids, and deciding what to do on day two. This is our most important work outside of working with students.

So why is that time often so hard to come by?

Note: I wrote this before my school started our prep week. Nothing here refers to my current school or colleagues.

Just Finished: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
About to Read (Again): Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

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  1. I still have two weeks before students start school and our school board has no PD days planned during the next two weeks. I'll be headed back into school tomorrow, though, to get my classroom ready and to begin organizing students' materials (notebooks, etc.), but I won't be there every day for the next two weeks. I've already spent quite a bit of time this summer working on long and short range plans.
    I don't know if there's a perfect 'before we go back to school' schedule. I do like it when we have at least one half-day together as a staff to reorient ourselves, meet new staff members, etc. before the year begins.

    1. We have had a full week (the archdiocese contract goes Aug. 15 to June 15, so any weekday is fair game) and lots of meetings, since we have new admin, but it has also been some good bonding time.