My wife is in the other room, watching "The Ron Clark Story." It tells the inspirational tale of a teacher who chooses to go to Harlem to be heartwarming.
Okay, okay - there's more to it than that, and I confess that I watched a few minutes and was amused by a few scenes. There was a moment when Mr. Clark was attempting to get his students' attention for a grammar lesson, and he told them that he would drink a carton of chocolate milk every fifteen seconds if they were quiet and listened to the lesson. "You might learn something, and I might throw up."
It made me think of all the things that I have stolen from other teachers over the years. Not things like staplers and three-hole punchers (though I think I still have a couple of those in my desk). I'm talking about the good ideas that make a classroom work. Little things like "1, 2, 3, eyes on me," or big things like a monetary system for my students. My students get a dollar for showing up to school on time, and another for completing their daily homework. These dollars won't buy them an X-Box, but they will pay for such indiscretions as an extra trip to the bathroom, or chewing gum. Saying "shut up" costs two dollars.
And there's still so much left to learn. This year hasn't even started, and I'm already planning responses to parents I haven't met yet. I'm anticipating interactions with kids who only know of me, they don't know me yet. And I don't know them. This will all happen soon enough, but for now, I think I'm going to watch a movie about firemen, or circus performers, or farm animals. The first day of school is coming - soon.