My colleagues and I have a vision for teacher education in NYC. We want to prepare teachers who are ready to serve urban populations, who understand what it means to teach and learn in NYC classrooms. Though we feel we have done an adequate job in the past, we know we could do better. So this semester three of us are piloting a new program, one where we, the university faculty, accompany our students into real classrooms - where we all learn with real teachers who are working with real students. This work is exciting, and it's also exhausting. Coordinating with the school, recruiting teachers who are willing to have us visit their classrooms, collaborating with two other professors who are, in practice, teaching two different courses than I am - all of this work to achieve what, in theory and in hope, will be a better education of teachers, one that is interdisciplinary and based in the real world.
Luckily, I only have 13 students this semester to follow, to coach, and to assess. I feel fortunate that this number is so small, particularly because the numbers for me to keep track of at home have increased beyond my expectations.
We decided to split our son and daughter into two different preschool classes. Our reasoning had everything to do with them and nothing to do with us. If I had thought about the effect separate classes would have on a twin mama... well, I wouldn't have reconsidered, but I would have better prepared myself for the start of school.
We received two class lists in August, one for "yellow" and one for "red." I glanced at the names, looking for the few I recognized from last year. For some reason it didn't hit me then. It didn't hit me that there were 14 names on each page, 28 kids, each with two parents listed. I started to realize that the numbers were not in my favor when I received an email from one of the moms on one of the lists. I have no idea who sent the email, but I do remember she was organizing a park play date for the "red" class. By the time I received the email, the class lists were "filed" somewhere on the growing mail pile, and I stared at the computer trying to recall which of my kids was in the "red" class.
I began to realize that splitting the kids was going to be harder than I had anticipated. My mental math revealed that I would have to learn the routines of 2 classrooms, the personalities of 4 teachers, the names of 26 classmates, and the faces of 50 other parents (there's a set of twins in Megan's class, so I was spared the extra 2 parents). For someone who has steered clear of numbers whenever possible, the stats are overwhelming.
My husband and I attended parent night and parent visitation, splitting the classrooms by gender, and this decision put me at an even greater disadvantage for my son's class during the parent tea, where I comfortably approached five or six parents I recognized from my daughter's "red" class. As I looked around the room, I realized I recognized no one from the "yellow" class. And I didn't have the energy to canvass tables searching for the potential 26 unknown moms or dads.
The logistics of collecting the two of them in different classrooms also confused me for a bit. The school is two stories, and I was not expecting the kids to be on different floors. They are, and pick up is very structured. Kids are released according to the parent line that waits outside the door and depending on their behavior in the closing circle. I realized quickly that I needed to be at the front of the "red" line in order to collect my daughter and scurry downstairs to collect my son in a timely manner. I didn't make it the first day, and my son was playing quietly, alone, with his teachers downstairs. The staff at the preschool is very supportive, and I'm sure my son did not think I had abandoned him, but I'm sure I added a few stress lines this week.
Fortunately, I have devised a plan, complete with labeled folders, for keeping track of everything. Now if I can just figure out how to explain it to the various caregivers, school staff, and family members who will help me keep it all together so that I can attend to my 2 university teaching partners, 13 students, and unknown number of high school faculty who will help me accomplish an exciting adventure at work.