Tuesday, September 4, 2007

First Day of School 2007

Another school year has just begun, and what a first day I just had. I spent the day at Lincoln Secondary School in Esko, Minnesota, a small town in Northern Minnesota on Interstate 35, about twenty miles south of Duluth. I had fun with the students doing three short programs for their seventh and eighth graders, ninth and tenth graders, and juniors and seniors.

Then the real fun began. A middle school math teacher by the name of Russ Davidson approached me to thank me and I asked him if he would like me to visit his classroom. With an abbreviated schedule for the first day of school and classes only running about 20 minutes, I watched a middle school math teacher teach with more passion than I have seen in a long time. The three classes I sat in on were seventh and eighth grade transitional math classes. He quickly went through his expectations and requirements for the year, handed out textbooks, and then gave the students to me.

I showed them how to do slant or lattice multiplication, did a fun math exercise that will only work this year, and spent my short time sharing some of my beliefs about how important a good education is to them.

The two of us fed of each other’s energy and had a learning experience that was just amazing. I think I got as much out of the experience as anyone.

Russ has spent his entire life, except for four years away at college, in Esko. He grew up there, and got his first, and only, teaching job thirty-five years ago in his hometown. He shared stories with me about his family, grandchildren and plans for the future. Under Rule 90, Russ is planning to retire at the end of this school year and move with his wife of 37 years to Florida. When he leaves, Esko will have a hard time filling his shoes.

The passion he puts into his classroom was obvious the minute I entered the room. He got excited just handing out textbooks!

The fun thing for me was it was completely unplanned. My contract stated I would give three large group presentations and be done at 1:00 PM. Whenever I visit a building, I like to spend as much time as possible with students because I can get more done. I would love to be a fly on the wall in his classroom tomorrow to see what his students have to say about their experience today.

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