Thank God for the second time through…
It’s soooooooooooo much easier, more fun and playful. I’m so much CLEARER where I’m going with concepts, and the problems they are likely to have. Really glad I held out for 8th grade again instead of sinking back into my comfort zone of 7th.
The second and third year of a new grade level or curriculum are the sweet spots. I think longer than that and you can get bored of a particular curriculum, or get kind of stuck in a comfy rut and lose faith that you COULD actually cope with some level of change.
If I were a principal, which I’m choosing never to be, I’d move staff to different grade levels every three or so years – you’d break down the territoriality that goes with the profession to the detriment of innovation and collegiality. You’d give everyone a sense of where students were headed in the next year, or where they had come from, and could truly build on skills and concepts, giving a more coherent 6-8th education in whatever subject area. And I bet it would help to keep us all fresh and learning right along with our students. If I lose touch with what it’s like to learn, I lose the humility needed to be a good teacher, and some of the joy too I think.
But don’t move me around every year. I feel for inner city colleagues in large districts where we are moved around like chess pieces at the last minute. Scrambling every day for the next lesson is never going to serve children well, especially in districts where school might be the safest part of their day. A chance to improve a skeleton of a new curriculum in the second year, and to embellish and polish it up in the third year – priceless.