Two weeks from today, at this very moment, I will be putting the finishing touches to my classroom.
Starting on Monday of that week, I would have been arranging desks and thinking about the children who will be sitting at them. I would have created name tags for that first day of introductions and the beginnings of all the messy and joyous work that will be our learning community; each name will represent a story that it will be my task to unfold, learn, and honor.
By Tuesday of that week, I will have unpacked the many boxes of books that I had sorted and packed in those last hectic days of June. Our book shelves will sing with invitations to begin and live a rich reading life; these books will be the building blocks of our daily rhythms of conversations, arguments, and laughter.
By Wednesday of that week, our bulletin boards will have been refreshed, and adorned with new borders, a few poems and quotes, a question or two. Their empty expanses will hint of work to come, of learning adventures ahead, of the growing we will do as readers, writers, poets, historians, thinkers, and individuals.
By Thursday and Friday of that week, our first official meetings and workshops will have taken place; conversations and collaborations will begin, and there will be that atmosphere of hope and excitement which always bless those first weeks of the new school year.
When I shut the lights off on Friday evening, and close the door to room 202, I will know that I am as ready as I ever will be to launch another sixth grade year. The room, orderly and inviting, looks calm and peaceful…which is an illusion, really. What I want most for my kids is to believe in is revolution. I want them to know why they read and write, and I want them to fight for the opportunity to do so because they are engaged and invested in the process…they know what it means for them.
So, this Poetry Friday, I want to share Kate Messner’s poem, our anthem:
Revolution for the Tested by Kate Messner
But don’t write what they tell you to.
Don’t write formulaic paragraphs
Counting sentences as you go
Put your pencil down.
Don’t write to fill in lines.
For a weary scorer earning minimum wage
Handing out points for main ideas
Supported by examples
From the carefully selected text.
(you can read the rest of the poem on Kate’s blog, here).