Twelve Days

Photograph by Jeff Woodward.That’s how long it took for school to start feeling normal to me this year. Up to then I was in full-on back-to-school mode, and so were my students. Kids’ shoes were shiny, voices were either loud or silent, faces were sleepy, eyes were peeking into other rooms in hopes of spotting an old friend, and questions were CONSTANT. I felt like I moved from teaching one procedure to the next, all day long . . . morning jobs, coming to the rug, hand raising, lining up, quiet signal, lunchroom, lining up, materials storage, water bottle filling, lining up, band-aids, good-bye jobs, and a little more lining up. Somewhere in there we talked about our hopes and dreams for the school year, picked some great ones, and used them as a spring board for creating the rules that will guide our behaviors all year long. Oh, and then I’m pretty sure we lined up AGAIN.

But then, after twelve Morning Meetings, twelve lunchtimes, two inside recess days (it is monsoon and fire ant season in Florida), twelve dismissals, and lots of discussion of hopes and dreams, rules, logical consequences, and CARES, I realized that I felt like myself again. It hit me just after Morning Meeting: my class was standing in the hall, waiting to go into the computer lab. As we waited, several children used our signal to let me know they needed drinks or the bathroom, one raised a hand to tell me something funny, and another “pinkie waved” to a friend from another class passing by. I listened to a couple kids engaged in quiet conversation about the library books they were hoping to check out, and watched two others playing a quiet hand game. A second class joined us in the hall, waiting for the other lab to empty. My colleague and I smiled at each other with relaxed faces, and I commented “Isn’t it amazing what twelve days can do?”

Suzanne Wright is a Responsive Classroom consulting teacher in Sarasota, Florida.

Tags: Classroom Rules, Hallways