Many years ago, my wife and I found ourselves without a car. During that time, I rode my bike everywhere I could as often as I could. After nearly passing out from heat exhaustion on a day when the heat index was over 90° F (32° C), I decided that was my upper limit for biking. As winter came, I also discovered that biking when the wind chill was below 20° F (-6° C) was equally a bad idea! On those days, I was fortunate to have coworkers who were kind enough to give me a ride to work. For the most part, though, as long as it wasn’t too hot, too cold, or raining, I was on my bike.
Even after we got a new (to us) car, I continued to bike as often as possible. Cycling was a great form of exercise, it saved a lot of money on automobile costs, it helped energise me in the morning, and it was fun. My students also recognised me when they saw me biking, so they knew that I was setting a good example for the physical activity that we are frequently telling students they all ought to be getting! Then I started graduate school. I still rode my bike a few times, but I quickly realised that biking home in the dark was not particularly safe, even with reflective gear and lights. So I started driving my car again.
I had wanted to get back into the (bicycle) saddle again this year, but it seemed like every day it was too hot, too cold, too wet, or too foggy, and so I was driving my car all the time. In fact, I think I rode my bike once all of the first semester and, until today, not once since then.
But I got back into the saddle again today. It wasn’t too cold, it wasn’t raining or foggy, and I knew I needed to stop making excuses. I woke up earlier than usual, got myself ready, and hopped on my bike, expecting to get to work in about 30 minutes, which is about what I used to average.
I forgot to take into account two important things: one, it has been months since I last rode my bike and two, it was a windy morning. It took me about 40 minutes to get to work, which may not seem like much, but it did mean that I didn’t give myself nearly as much time to get settled in at the start of the day.
All that being said, I am glad I am back on my bike. Graduate school was great for my mind but not so kind to my waistline. I am hoping that cycling 9-10 miles every day will bring back all of those positive outcomes that I saw back when I was biking more regularly. In the meantime, I think I ought to get up about 15 minutes earlier to give myself just a little bit more time in the morning!
There is an author of young adult books, John Green, who has written several stories that have gained considerable attention in the literary world, such as The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and An Abundance of Katherines. Of these, I have only read the first, which, while a fantastic story, is not particularly well-suited to a grade school classroom. I have wanted to read Mr. Green’s other books and have them on my ever-present and ever-growing To Be Read list. Even without reading them, though, I have long been captivated by his titles.
In my classroom, my students are currently experiencing an abundance of teachers. In addition to Mr. G, who has been with us since January, we have had a team of student observers from the University of Illinois who have come once a week to observe in one of three classrooms. In order to better manage the space, we have had two in my room, two in the other fourth grade room, and one with our reading interventionist. Starting yesterday, they began a four-week placement during which they come to Wiley all day every day. The five rotate so that each of them has the opportunity to be in all of the classrooms with different combinations.
When taking into account myself, my full-time aide, tutors who come either in the morning or in the afternoon, and our special education teacher who pushes in a couple of times a day, there are times when we have at least six teachers in the room at any one time. This works out to about one teacher for every four students.
Like I said, an abundance of teachers.
Adjusting to this new arrangement has been interesting. for both the students and the teachers. However, it has also been fantastic to allow much more targeted instruction as we group and regroup throughout the day. The students are able to get support much more quickly than in the past, due to the fact that there are so adults ready to assist them in their work, answering questions, giving feedback, providing specific praise, redirecting and refocusing, and generally helping wherever and whenever needed.
It is my expectation that, with such an abundance of teachers, my students will all be able to make considerable gains as we push forward in the last quarter of the year. And, of course, we will be sad when all of our student teachers have to leave us to go on to different placements or different jobs.
But, for now, we are going to enjoy our abundance of teachers!