In the Suburbs: ’Tis the busy back-to-school season
Published 7:04 am, Sunday, August 16, 2015
We’ve barely turned the calendar to August and that predictable pre-school routine has already started on so many fronts. The march toward the first school bell will be steady until the first teacher sessions begin somewhere around the middle or the end of the month.
And at the downtown Fairfield University Bookstore, where I just celebrated my third anniversary, we are vigorously preparing for that inevitable rush period, which begins around Aug. 30 when the students start returning. While my hours have been pretty steady throughout the summer, I have definitely noticed an uptick just in the past week.
A lot of that has to do with the group of high school graduates moving on to the next chapter in their lives later this month. Most of those students have worked in our text department for at least a couple of rush periods. Now it’s all sleeves rolled up to stock shelves with those heavy text books and beef up our merchandise inventory for the inevitable onslaught of new students and parents anxious to collect identity shirts, sweatshirts and sweatpants, tee-shirts and other items to launch academic life at Fairfield University.
I spent just about two hours last week shelving, and the next day was rubbing in ointment for muscle pain. I lost count on the number of “v” carts wheeled over for shelving.
I’m also midway through an online course in the teaching mindfulness, a stress reduction and sensitivity concept that started in the ’70s for health purposes, but has migrated into education as a way of helping students become more conscious of their feelings and emotion. I’ll be assisting my principal at our charter school as he teaches the program in the fall.
I completed an application for teaching in Bridgeport schools earlier this summer and, out of nowhere, I received a phone call from a principal in a K-8 school. I interviewed with her last week. Even though I am still working on my provisional certification, which will enable me to teach for the year with a deferral of testing, the principal was willing to do the interview, which I really appreciated. I needed to know the expectations and my own shortcomings.
I also dropped off some credentials and resumes with two administrators in Fairfield with the hope that if my provisional certificate comes through, I could also be a long-term substitute.
For teachers and teaching assistants like me, our charter school begins on Tuesday, Aug. 25, and I believe our students return two days later. That’s less than two weeks away and it’s hard to believe I’m starting my third year. With Labor Day not coming until Sept. 7, we’ll be in school more than a week by then this year.
My assignment as a long-term substitute was just a one-time gig and this year I’ll return to assisting in various classes like I usually do. But I’m definitely hoping to do more with the coaching of writing and reading in classes and perhaps assisting with some English and social studies lessons.
Last year I spent a lot of time in the math and science classes, particularly in geometry and Earth science. I honestly feel that the geometry paid off and what I learned certainly helped me on the Praxis 1 teaching examination.
My older daughter’s educational direction will shift radically this year from a self-contained classroom of special-needs students to a resource classroom where she will co-teach English and reading. She couldn’t be more excited.
As she begins her 12th year, we’re seeing a whole new energy. And she’ll be coaching the men’s and women’s track teams again this year. Now that she has a year of coaching under her belt, she can’t wait to meet the team and get out on the field.
From this point on the month is going to be a blur for teachers and students. One of of my bookstore colleagues, who teaches in Westport, was already in her classroom this week getting ready. Her teacher sessions begin the week of Aug. 17.
Staples is already crowded with parents and students clutching those all important supply lists so youngsters will be ready to learn from the first day. And in the bookstore we’re getting a lot of students who are finally getting around to summer reading, just a little late.
Ah yes, fall is in the air and while I’m still dripping from humidity, I know that all too soon I’ll be in the classroom again, albeit a little warm for a few more weeks, as school begins again.
Steven Gaynes’ "In the Suburbs" appears each Friday. He can be reached at email@example.com.