Now I have to figure out which parts of my vision I can keep and which parts need to wait another year.
Things to Let Go
1. The Reading Zone. This year, there won’t be room for comfy chairs, a rug, a little table, and a lamp. When students enter the room, they will see my colleague’s prominent desk instead of my reading nook. (My desk is tiny and in the opposite corner of the room.) Therefore, students will read primarily from their desks. I suppose I can try to find some oversized pillows so at least a handful of students can sprawl out on the floor. But the dedicated nook won’t be a reality this year.
2. A Full-Fledged Classroom Library. I like a minimalist, uncluttered environment, and I wanted my classroom to send a singular message: We read here. But now, the classroom is only half mine. Several of the bookshelves are filled with my colleague’s curriculum binders and materials. As I acquire more books, where will they go? When I teach in the other room, how will students choose books?
Things to Keep
1. The 1,000,000 Word Challenge. I won’t lie: Coming back to school has made me more nervous about unveiling my new project. I sense cynicism and disapproval from my colleagues. But I cannot let their questions deter me from my excitement. The ninth graders will read a lot this year, and they will enjoy reading, and their reading skills will improve! Instead of getting bogged down by and worrying about adults, I will spend my energy with my students.
2. My Experimental Mindset. I’ve reminded myself over and over that I’m consciously changing my practice this year. Sure, I’ve had success as a teacher in the past. But what I want to do this year is fundamentally different. My hope is that my students and I won’t just “play school” but rather will be involved in something real. How I am as a teacher — and my expectancies for myself and my students — is more important than physical space limitations. I hope to learn day by day. It will take patience and confidence.