Visting Schools with my Bags of Tech: SOLT

Everyone at the field. Good thing the weather was unseasonably perfect.

I posted this Slice on Tara’s Class Site.  It’s a different writing experience with a 6th grade audience in mind. Now that’s something to reflect on.  Here’s my revised piece:

Walking at Glen Rock Middle School

I enjoy a good walk, don’t you?  Of course, I wasn’t really thinking about walking to  Glen Rock’s Middle School ball field when I arrived on Tuesday morning for another great writing session with Tara Smith and her 6th grader Slicers.

Everything seemed to be working perfectly as I took my usual ride down Oradell Ave that becomes Ridgewood Ave just before  I turn left and keep traveling from traffic light to traffic light down into Glen Rock until Harristown Rd.

I was comfortably early enough to drive just a tiny bit farther  to a new café discovery for a large coffee and a poppy seed covered flagel (flat bagel) to save for later.  What a day!

I was back in my car, moving comfortably down Harristown, anticipating that right turn just before the school to be able to navigate on the one-way street.  This morning I hit treasure- a line of open visitor parking spaces bordering  the athletic fields.  Little did I know that I would be getting to know those fields much better than I imagined.

I got out of my car, covered myself with my tech bags and strolled in the warm October fall to the main entrance where I was casually recognized by the school’s official greeter.  Nope, I didn’t need directions to Mrs. Smith’s classroom.

Up the staircase on my left and down the hallway to room 102,  a soft knock on the door and I was welcomed by teacher and class. I enjoyed getting comfortable: setting up my tripod and camera and  watching the group select their next reading book.  I remembered how much I loved reading books of my own selection in school.

Soon we began the next chapter of slicing with the group.  At week #3, slicers were getting comfortable and clear about what ingredients a slice needed include to hold their attention. We were on a roll until… until… the dreaded break in our stride.

“ Excuse me for the disruption but everyone must evacuate the building now.  Everyone must leave the building and follow your teacher’s directions, NOW!”

What? Now?  I was out of step.  I had no one to lead.  Not my school.   TS saw my hesitation and came to assure me that all was not lost, that we would be back in time to continue our roll-out for Slice #4.  But I remembered drills.  They could take longer than hoped.

Yes, I was disappointed, but I could just move along, follow the crowd, not even keep up with Mrs. Smith and her class, just take a walk, take in fall aromas.  I was moving on leave-covered streets, checking out houses already decked out for Halloween.  It wasn’t my intention, but I did plug into conversations around me:  7th grade girls planning their Halloween marathons.  I was not so disappointed.

I was getting closer to Mrs. Smith and her Slicers as the school crowd got closer to the field.   I watched and remembered what it was like to keep a group of kids together and at the same time plan quickly what the rest of the day would look like.  How would I make up for the time I was losing?

A teacher is always trouble shooting, always revising a plan, always being flexible.   I’m remembering how hard it was to be a teacher.


I was back in Highland Falls yesterday wearing my PD hat as I arrived early to get comfortable, chat with Andrea and set up for our day with the HF team of teachers who are in the midst of a multi-genre project with a final digital essay to prep for.  I got to visit their classrooms in the last few weeks and I have them documented on my trusty new video camera, the Canon Vixia HD20.

I was pumped as I entered familiar ground only to be greeted with news that there would be missing teachers, sitting in traffic due to road construction.  But we are teachers, immediately in damage control mode, revising our plan for the day.  It felt so familiar, the usual life of a teacher to make it work, no matter what.  I wonder if other professionals are so well trained for making the moment work, no matter what.

Yes, finally the missing teachers arrived and they, like us, jumped onto the moving train and the day moved along.

Of course there were issues to deal with during the day… Sherry, the librarian had to leave early when the nurse at her daughter’s school called to let her know she was needed and 3 teachers quietly let me know they had to be out the door as we ended and one teacher disappeared without mentioning that she had scheduled a conference with a parent in our last hour.  And we continued… in our last hour Troy Hicks joined us via Google Hangout to share his work with digital essays and the teachers that needed to be present, were.

I’ve been thinking deeply about what the world doesn’t know about the work of a teacher.  I want it all out there and with my cameras I want to share it with the world.

6 thoughts

  1. I love the way your post shows your inner thoughts as you describe the changing world surrounding you. I hope Tara’s kids catch on to that as they write their slices.
    I hope you can get it all out there, to let people know how teachers juggle everything and still they teach.

  2. “Jumped onto the moving train” – great analogy of the day. We are moving, making stops, adding and deleting, changing. Allowing us to get into your thoughts brought me to the heart of the action and day. Thanks for letting me get a peak.

  3. “I’ve been thinking deeply about what the world doesn’t know about the work of a teacher. I want it all out there and with my cameras I want to share it with the world.”

    These two sentences give us a lot of hope! It is great to know someone is thinking deeply about this who has the eloquence of words and photos to share it with the world that needs to know!

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