Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Contemplating the Complicated Emotions That Come With Back to School Season

Back to School season always hits me with such a myriad of emotions. 

I love teaching and I love my job (especially as it has evolved over the years). I adore my fellow colleagues and always learn so much from them and appreciate how teachers have a wonderfully wicked sense of humor. I thrive on those "ah-ha" moments that my students have when they learn something new or that connection finally clicks for them. I do a silent "yes" (arm & fist "yes" gesture included) when I see student struggle coalesce into confidence and complete understandings. In my role as Tech Specialist, I get the opportunity to experience that with my teachers learners too when they also acquire new tech skills I have taught them. I have a true love of learning, soaking up new trends and seeking to continually becoming wiser within my field.  

BUT...I love my summers!!! They are so hard to say goodbye to. Teachers are blessed with having this 6-12 week block off in the summer to relax, refresh, and rejuvenate between school years. Time to "BE"--off schedule, outside, at the pool, napping, reading, less stressed! In my 30+ years of teaching, I've seen the people who see "teacher summer" as decadent and perhaps like to laugh at the concept of "easy living." But then there are the people I know, love, and live with who see how vital that summer block is for decompressing, reflecting, and reinvigorating to prepare for all the demands that teachers face during the 9-10 month school year. Even moreso, here in the post-Covid world of 2020 and 2021, Many of us still are in recovery mode, warding of the PTSD of pandemic teaching, given the demands of that era of education seems to be the gifts that keep giving.

So now, here we are, at the front end of another school year. 

I have been experimenting a lot lately with ChatGPT. while playing around with it, I fed it the prompt "back to school season" and it spit out 5 paragraphs about what all that 4 word phrase entails. I then typed in the following prompt: 

"Using the information listed above, write a lighthearted, positive welcome back poem to teachers, elevating them for the school year ahead, and paying tribute to all of the things they do for their students and students' families all year long. Honor them as unsung heroes and wish them good tiding for a super year ahead. "

ChatGPT responded with a 7 stanza poem (in less than 60 seconds, of course), showcasing its power and prowess. As one should do when using generative artificial intelligence, I read through it, generated a few versions through the AI, merged a few, then made it my own by sprinkling in a bit of me. Full disclosure, it was a combined work, with ChatGPT getting a bulk of credit for it. (Demonstrating good practice, I've credited it below.). Here's the outcome:

Ode to Back-to-School Season & Our Teachers

Goodbye dear summer and our teacher delight,
The time has come for school to resume its flight.
Adventures lie ahead within classrooms we'll share,
With backpacks and supplies, all readily prepare.

Unsung champions, mentors so true,
Through challenges faced, teachers help us breakthrough.
From numbers and words, to wisdom's embrace, 
Teachers light every paths with knowledge and grace.

Teaching so much more than mere words on a page, 
Cultivating wisdom and hearts that engage,
Teachers do it with patience and care each day,
Providing students a chance to learn, laugh, and play.

So here's to you, Teachers, with hearts of gold, 
As the new school year's story starts to unfold. 
May your classrooms resound with joy and with cheer,
As we wish you super success for a very good year.

Just as each new year is unique and different, teachers need to embrace the changes and challenges that lie ahead. With the growing questions and curiosities and concerns and celebrations of AI, this quote spoke to me. I found in the public AI Classroom Facebook Group. The quote is by author Amanda Fox, coauthor of The AI Classroom: The Ultimate Guide to Artificial Intelligence in Education (and co-written by Dan Fitzpatrick and Brad Weinstein). I like the focus on collaboration and the importance of mixing human intelligence (HI) and artificial intelligence (AI) together to make something better than before. [Vicki Davis, known as "Cool Cat Teacher" and the creator of "The 10 Minute Teacher" podcast has written a lot about the combination of HI + AI.]

Teachers, may your upcoming school year greet you with good energy and adventure for what is ahead. May we all serve as inspiration to each other, lift each other up on the hard days, and make amazing memories during the year ahead.

Poem above modified and shortened from 3 generated poems by Chat GPT on August 19th, 2023 using the prompt listed above, quote image from; back to school image created at and

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