Today marks the first day in the past 14 years that I haven't started September as 'Mr. Bratt'. It's the first time I haven't been a classroom teacher in nearly a decade and a half.
This brings with it some good and some bad. The bad is that I won't be receiving a steady paycheck with benefits. I'm gonna have to hustle a bit. I've got some things lined up, but will be working side jobs and the like for extra cash. The good is that I didn't have to sit through terrible professional development.
Especially the past four years with the Grand Rapids Public Schools, terrible PD was the standard start to a school year. Last year I sat in a meeting where paid, trained, (supposedly) competent adults discussed 'What is a grade?'. It was not a philosophical argument. The answer basically came down to: it's relative and depends on the kid. Two years ago, I watched the bulk of GRPS staff walk out of a meeting - a meeting on professionalism - early. I sat through talks of how to teach 'your Advisory' without a clear definition or explanation of what an 'advisory' was. I sat through staff-wide ACT workshops without knowing what classes I was teaching, access to any of the documents being presented about, or knowledge of where the staff bathroom was. Basically, time misspent and mismanaged.
The above are slightly rantish musings of the things I don't miss. I feel better than I have in an early September in recent memory. A typical September would see me walking into a school at a various form of disfunction, hit head-on with the realities of urban education. Class rosters wouldn't be set, teaching schedules could change, rooms weren't set up, supplies weren't in. The first few weeks were essentially babysitting, because enrollment wasn't stabilized until the end of the second week. Books may or may not come. The 'new' initiative would soon be rolled out. But despite the mayhem, learning was supposed to happen. It rarely did in the ways it could, and you'd see the results of Incompetence running things. That I don't miss.
I've heard some good things on the importance of grieving the passing of a season. It stems from the fact that our world is built upon death and rebirth. Things are planted, grow, blossom, and then die. This is nature.
This type of thinking and living makes a lot of sense to me. These seasons may be things like jobs, locations, and stages of life. When it happens in the world, even in death, plants and animals give back to the living world. It's said that energy isn't destroyed. So it could be reasoned that seasons are important to the overall growth and health of something.
So, with the change, comes a new season.