Thursday, September 15, 2016

First Steps On A Journey To Becoming Us

This is our first week of school. 

We made some significant changes around the place over the summer. Our growing kindergarten program needed more space and the only thing that made sense was to move them into the classroom that we've been using as our primary storage room for the past six years. 

Having sufficient storage space is important to me. In an ideal world, I would have at least as much as I do classroom space, but frankly, since we run our program largely on donations, junk and garbage there is really no amount that would be sufficient. That said, we've gone from having just barely enough storage to having not quite enough and over the summer a lot of work went into shoehorning it all into the various cupboards, closets, rooms, and sheds that are now serving the purpose.

Over the first couple months of summer break, I taught some of our summer program sessions which meant only being there 3-4 mornings a week, running our version of a summer camp for a rotating group of kids. This was followed by five weeks of presenting professional development talks and workshops in Australia, before returning for one more summer session followed by a journey from despair to elation as we somehow figured out how to make our storage situation work.

I remember what the first day of kindergarten felt like, a unique mixture of anxiousness and excitement. The children I teach are experiencing that this week, as are, I'm sure, their parents. 

Most years, I feel that way too, but this year the most pronounced emotions for me have been ones of relief, of ease, of relaxation, and honestly, of pure joy. 

After the summer, I find myself embracing this return to normal. I didn't even realize how much I missed it. There are similarities between our summer program and the regular school year, but this is the real deal. 

We will be coming together again and again, the same people, day after day, week after week, month after month. We will be getting to know one another through our play and our projects, through our triumphs and our conflicts, through our belly laughs and our bloody owies. We will be creating the story of all of us living together. 

We are coming together to create something that has never existed before: our community of children and their families. That's why we do this. That's why Woodland Park exists. It's not about a single day or a week, but about the commitment we've made to be together every day, to working things out, to struggling and thriving. In some sense, summer is about every man for himself, while the school year is about everyone being in it together. We're always stronger that way.

We're painting and building and puzzling and digging and exploring this week, the first week of school. And we'll do it next week and the next: first steps on a journey to becoming us

In other words, normal preschool stuff. I'm sure happy to be back.

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Kate55NZ said...

I loved the photo of the cow painting! I look forward to reading your blogs on a daily basis. They are inspiring and thought provoking. As I get ready to travel home (6 hour journey by road) I have something to think about. Storage. Home-based care. My Passion. Teaching.

Laurie GSkies said...

I love these photos. This is real. (and look like our first week at school.) These absolutely encourage child exploration! Such well-loved, well-used and inviting spaces.

John White said...

Wow! This is amazing work, Teacher Tom … I must say… I really wish you tones of luck for the good work. There are many things I could relate to also for example I also remembered how my fist day at preschool gave me butte