I’m back! After a month traveling, I’m officially back in New Mexico. I actually missed this place terribly. My roommate and I drove back from Albuquerque and went into raptures over things like far-off mesas, red-brown rocks as far as the eye can see, and the stunning colors in the sunset-smeared sky. I took a bike ride and talked to the prairie dogs along the way (don’t worry, there was no one around to see my crazy). I went to basketball practice and laughed as some middle-schoolers, in typical middle school fashion, acted too cool to acknowledge that I’d even been gone, while the less self-conscious ones gave me a hug or grinned at everything I said all day. It’s nice to be back.
I’m also realizing, and this is not news, how much easier things are the second time around. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’ve got it all figured out, because that would be a blatant overstatement. But I don’t have to think everything up from scratch. I don’t have to sort through everything in my classroom just to figure out if any of it is useful. I don’t have to invent a whole new management strategy (though I do have to figure out how to do last year’s accidental phasing out of the traffic light on-purpose this time). I still have to think about vision and what our Big Goals should be, but I’m not starting from zero. Perhaps most importantly, I can start this year with systems that I actually (probably) want to use all year, rather than changing how we take notes/line up/track our Independent Reading every two months as I realize that my last system was horribly inefficient. The poor 2012s are in the spot I was last year, and I think seeing how completely overwhelmed they are really made me notice how overwhelmed I’m not. I’m solidly whelmed right now, in fact.
It’s not that I think I’m going to be the best teacher ever. But I’m really excited to start this year with a sense of what I want, a sense of what is reasonable, and a sense of how we’re going to go about things. It’s a much better feeling than I had this time last year.