Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Behind the Books: A New Normal?

I began doing school visits in 2000, and for 13 years the pattern was the same.

--No school visits in September. Teachers and students are busy getting used to one another and their new routines.

--Plenty of school visits in October and early November.

--No school visits in late November and December. The holidays are coming and teachers have things they need to finish up before the December break.

--No school visits in January or February. The weather is too unpredictable. Better to wait for spring.

--Scattered school visits in March. State-mandated assessment tests take priority.

--In April and May, so many school visits requests that I have to turn someone down.

--No school visits in June. The year is winding down.

But this year something unusual has happened. Late November was crazy busy, and I had school visits scattered through December. I have a dozen school visits in January and February. March seems about normal, and I still have a few open dates in the spring. By this time, my spring calendar is closed tight.

I’m not sure what’s going on.

Many schools seem to be doing two rounds of standardized testing this year--the old one as well as a new one related to Common Core, and that might be part of the answer. But what I’m wondering is whether this is a fluke or the new normal.

As much as I love school visits, I usually look forward to hunkering down during the heart of winter and digging into my writing. The long, interrupted period gives me the mental space I need to peck away at problem projects. It’s also a great time to catch up on reading and plan for the future.

Right now, I’m lamenting the change in my schedule. But it has taught me a lesson. Next year I’ll think carefully about how I prioritize my time in the winter months. And I have to admit I love the boost of energy I'm getting from the cheery young faces and all their thoughtful and probing questions. I have no doubt that those kids will teach me a thing or two. They always do.

No comments:

Post a Comment