My first official day back at school is in two weeks; of course, I'll be there a few days earlier, with the boxes full of materials I took home when I left for my fellowship two years ago. I am both excited and anxious to return to the classroom. It's been a busy two years, and both the school and I have changed.
I feel a bit out of practice in front of students, perhaps even more than when I was department chair for three years. Being away from the building entirely, I feel like I've forgotten what it's like! I know that's not entirely true and I need to put that bit of worry aside. Also, I will be teaching the same classes that I taught before the fellowship, so the classes should be familiar. On the other hand, the school has switched to a block schedule, the curriculum for two of the classes have changed, there has been some turnover in the administration, and I will be coteaching a class for the first time. So who knows what my year will look like?
I do have some goals. I want to really work on creating a classroom community using some of the democratic classroom techniques I started trying a few years ago, and adding in some of the team- and relationship-building I have learned in the fellowship. I also want to use more inclusive and student-centered pedagogy, including what I've learned while researching un-grading techniques, Liljedahl's building thinking classrooms, historical puzzles and games, and, of course, the see-think-wonder and related pedagogies from the Library of Congress. My more personal goals are to write more about my own practice and about finding the joy of mathematics across the curriculum. (I'm hoping to write a summary of my work at the end of each week on this blog.) I also plan to maintain a work-life balance and find time to read and write for myself.
|Picture by Fernando FLeitas from Pixabay|
One big thing I've learned (and continue learning) is that I don't have to get it right the first, or even the nth time. Living and working remotely (and remotely from home as well) has helped me be more comfortable with failure or with just being in the moment and not worrying about the end result so much. So my last goal is to remember this when I'm in the classroom as well.
Will it all work out?
Will my worries become reality?
Will I accomplish my goals?
Will the whole thing fall apart?
Who knows? But if it does come crashing down, I'll just yell "Jenga!" then pick up the pieces and start again.