Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils

unknownWell, tomorrow is officially the first day of autumn. This evening was Open House at my school. I am in a new building as of this fall, and have shifted into a 3rd grade classroom. Having an empty shell of a classroom to call my home was a daunting task, but one I took on like a true Joanna Gaines wannabe. It was admittedly overwhelming – having benchmark assessments ready to be administered and scored, Common Core pacing calendars aligned with my lesson plans, and pulling together a classroom library to facilitate Readers’ and Writers’ Workshops.

Having spent some time in the smallest elementary school in my district as a reading teacher, this was quite a dynamic shift. I moved from a “neighborhood school” where I would pass many students walking to school as I pulled into the parking lot, to the largest elementary school in my district. My new building is also the predominant K-4 building in our district based on standardized test scores too.

It really doesn’t matter where I am teaching. It just matters that I am teaching. I love to get up every day and go into school. The rhythm of the academic year suits me best- with the denouement of summer closing one chapter, and the inception of autumn being the next volume to write.august-school-clipart-welcome-august-back-to-school-22ptad-clipart

Of all the experiences in life I have had professionally, none makes me feel more joyful than to teach. There is a “night-before-Christmas” energy that is palpable – not just for students but for teachers. We study our roster, laminate everything we can, help co-workers clear paper jams in printers and photocopiers just like we would “make a list and check it twice,” prepare ingredients for recipes, etc.

I even get impassioned reading the scope and sequence of Lucy Calkins’s Units of Study manuals. They are written so passionately – it invokes a spirit of the back-to-school season. You can truly sense her charisma for the written word in her pedagogical guidebooks. Having met her and heard her speak, I can channel her voice reading me the pages.

It’s pure magic.

I have found myself coming full-circle. The little girl I was in the Waldenbooks Store in unknown-2the Lockport Mall back in the 1980’s is now trying to connect my students with “just right” books, so that it will open doors of opportunity/exploration in their lives. I know, I’m just one educator in their long academic careers, but if I can make the difference for just one child’s life – I have truly served my calling.

So every morning this year, coffee in hand, I will be eagerly preparing for my 21 sweet, squirmy, energetic, thoughtful, sensitive third graders to come cavorting into Room 206. I guess life isn’t so bad after all…

I wish you all a happy, productive year full of “bouquets of sharpened pencils!” (And if you know that movie reference…you get bonus points!)



Author: Kirsten Burke Smith, M.S.Ed

I am an educator, presenter, and single mom of two little boys. I have a passion for educational technology, literacy, STEAM, and mindfulness for increasing engagement and student achievement.

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