Posted in 2017, Classroom, Literacy, Reading, Reflection, Slice of Life

#SOL17 It Matters To Be a Teacher Who Reads

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I have been a voracious reader as long as I can remember. My childhood memories are full of long and happy hours spent with Clifford the Big Red Dog, my friends in the Babysitters’ Club, and everyone’s favorite female sleuth in practical pumps, Nancy Drew. Middle school was spent living through the terrors on R.L Stine’s Fear Street, followed by a graduation to the true horror of Stephen King in high school. Quite simply, I can’t remember a time when there hasn’t been a book on my nightstand.

As I started teaching, I would have told you I brought my love for books into the classroom. I filled my classroom library with fantastic reads, both new and classic–or, at least, I was told they were fantastic. Some I read as read alouds; others I skimmed to prepare for working with book clubs. But way too many of the amazing books on my shelves were never opened by me–and, therefore, never opened by my students.

Fast forward to two summers ago. After eight years in the classroom and four years as an instructional coach, I thought I had everything figured out. I loved literacy and everything related to reading and writing. I felt confident in my knowledge of good instructional practices. I had a shelf overflowing with amazing professional books and was regularly leading professional development around literacy.

But then I attended the ILA conference and the world shifted. As I sat there, immersed in literacy for four days, the margins of my notebook quickly filled with title after title of outstanding books. Someone handed me a copy of The One and Only Ivan. And I began to really read for the first time in a long time.

I spent the rest of that summer reading middle grade and YA novels, then continued throughout that school year. Last summer I participated in Donalyn Miller’s summer #Bookaday challenge, the stack of books on my nightstand constantly threatening to tip over. I signed up for the selection committee for our state’s book awards and subscribed to the Nerdy Book Club blog for regular updates of new and upcoming titles. I read books that made me laugh, books that have made me ugly cry, and books that have taken me completely out of my reading comfort zone. I have held my breath as Peter and Pax tried to find their way back to each other and mourned Ms. Bixby. Over the past two years, I have transformed myself into a model of the kind of reader I want my students to become.

And, I learned very quickly, it matters.

It matters because of the student who had a copy of Raina Telgemeier’s Sisters on her desk whose face lit up when I asked her if she’d also read Smile.

It matters because of the fourth grader who visits my office to chat with me about Charlotte’s Web.

It matters because of the first grader who stopped and talked to me about our favorite Dog Man book in the hallway yesterday afternoon.

It matters because of the fifth grader who raised his hand to get my attention during standardized testing last week because he wanted to tell me he started reading The Honorable Perry T. Cook after I read a chapter aloud in his classroom several weeks ago.

It matters because of the third graders who showed up at my office door to borrow Fenway and Hattie after I shared a chapter with their class.

It matters because of the teacher who asked to borrow Pax for a class read aloud after I used an excerpt in a training.

And it matters for my own children, who I can only hope are someday inspired by teachers who love to read, too.

Note: Just as I prepared to hit publish on this post, this fantastic piece by Pernille Ripp popped up in my inbox with some outstanding ideas on how to be a reading role model!


I’m excited to join other writers every Tuesday (and daily during the month of March) in 2017 to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge through Two Writing Teachers. Read all about how you can Write. Share. Give. on their website here.

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Posted in 2017, Literacy, Reflection, Slice of Life, Writing

#SOL17 Stuck

After writing every day in the March challenge, I thought writing was getting easier.  But today…I’m stuck.

I want to write about my mom’s 60th birthday today and about all of the wonderful things she has done for me. I want to share my most precious memories and all of the ways I am thankful for having her in my life. But the words just won’t come.

I want to capture all of the precious Easter memories from yesterday, the looks of joy on my kids’ faces as they saw their Easter baskets and hunted for eggs and proclaimed the day to be “the BEST Easter ever.” But I just can’t put all of that into writing tonight.

I keep trying to sketch out the moment when my daughter, hands covered in melted chocolate Easter egg, decided to paint Simba on the inside of our car window “just like that monkey did in the Lion King.” But I just can’t seem to recreate that moment.

I wish I could reflect upon the testing that begins at school tomorrow, the hours of rehearsal and practice and tension and build up over the past weeks. But I don’t know what I would say.

Tonight I am just stuck. Maybe tomorrow will bring the right words my way.


I’m excited to join other writers every Tuesday (and daily during the month of March) in 2017 to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge through Two Writing Teachers. Read all about how you can Write. Share. Give. on their website here.
slice-of-life_individual

Posted in 2017, Classroom, Literacy, Reading

My #MustReadin2017 Update

At the beginning of the year, several bloggers I follow started posting their #MustReadin2017 lists, and I was instantly inspired. I traced their posts back to Carrie Gelson’s site There is a Book for That, where she extended an open invitation for readers to create, post, and share their own #MustReadin2017 lists. I combed through my Goodreads list, blogs, and the Nerdy Book Club’s 2016 Middle Grade Nerdies to compile the list I posted here, a total of 30 books I hoped to read by the end of this year.

Since then, a printed copy of this paper has sat on my 
desk, getting shuffled into one pile or another. Occasionally, I take it out, grab my blue marker, and cross another book off the list. Sometimes I refer to it while I’m on the library’s website to request a book when I’m out of inspiration (that doesn’t happen very often). Other times I look through the books I’ve already read and reflect on the ones I want to recommend to other readers.

This week, Carrie invited those of us who decided to participate to check in and share our progress. Much like the work we do sometimes with data, I immediately thought of just sharing my number: I’ve read 23 of the 30 books I challenged myself to read. A few of the remaining titles are on my nightstand currently. I’m waiting for a few more from the library.

But that doesn’t tell the story.

The story is that I love to read and I always have, but I also fall into pretty consistent reading patterns. I frequently get hooked on a particular author or series. I love realistic fiction, especially if it is dramatic. I do love to read middle grade and YA books, but shy away from fantasy and mystery and sports stories.

While this list didn’t completely push me out of my comfort zone, the story behind this check in is that it has done some powerful things for me as a reader:

  • It has pushed me to finish books I would otherwise have tried to abandon. The Inquisitor’s Tale and When the Sea Turned to Silver were amazingly-written books that were both highly recommended, but they were both out of my reading comfort/interest zone. I really had to push myself to not put them down–and I’m glad I didn’t.
  • It has kept me more focused. So often, I see a great book and mark it on Goodreads…and then forget it exists. Having this list in hand has kept some important books front and center for me the past few months.
  • It has helped me connect with other readers. Seeing the same books on someone else’s list automatically makes you feel connected with that person.
  • It has guided me to be a more committed reader. I already read voraciously, but this list has empowered me to become a little more committed to finding and reading particular titles. Knowing there would be check-in points throughout the year has supported me in not forgetting this list.

When I think about all of the benefits of participating in this community, I look forward to offering students the choice to create their own lists when I return to the classroom next fall. I can’t wait to explore the potential of adding this to my toolbox for building a reading community–and I can’t wait to knock out the remaining books on my own list in 2017!

 

Posted in 2017, Collaboration, Literacy, Reflection

The Reading Strategies Book, Goal 13: Improving Writing About Reading

When I first moved from teaching primary to intermediate grades almost ten years ago, I quickly adopted the practice of having students regularly write about their reading in the form of reading response letters. Every other week, each of my fourth graders was responsible for crafting a letter that demonstrated a deep understanding of something they were reading independently. I spend a great deal of time setting up elaborate systems of when the letters were due, how they were handed in and graded, and the precise formula of three structured paragraphs I expected to see. I spent an even greater amount of time reading each of these (mostly) poorly written letters and writing back to each of my students. I asked many of them to try again, truly believing that making them write more (mostly) poorly written letters would somehow improve both their writing and their reading.

Thinking back now, I feel like I should probably sit down to write each of them a perfectly structured, mostly formulaic three paragraph letter of apology to express how sorry I am that we all suffered through that experience. While my students did become better readers each year, I believe now that it had very little to do with the effort (or lack thereof) that they put into writing required response letters to me. Instead, I’ve since realized, their improvements in reading had everything to do with opportunities during Reading Workshop that were tailored to meet their needs, individualized, motivating, incorporated choice, and provided time to think deeply and share their thoughts about their reading with others.

That is what good writing about reading looks like. Goal 13 of The Reading Strategies Book provides 23 amazing strategies to help teachers support students with a variety of options for writing about reading.

“Teaching children to wrImage result for the reading strategies bookite well about their reading is about teaching them that their thinking about books matters.” (p. 350)

Writing about reading is a balancing act. Although we want our students to develop the habits of recording their thinking and fully developing their ideas around texts, the reading itself is always most important. Serravallo, citing Nancy Atwell (2014), emphasizes that writing about reading should be filled with choices: when to write, what to write, and how to write. Serravallo advises teachers to use caution when writing about reading with students in the primary grades, where the heavy focus should be on developing emergent reading behaviors. (A majority of the strategies in this chapter are most appropriate for students in upper elementary grades and middle school.)

According to Serravallo, strategies for writing about reading fall into several distinct categories:

  • Reflection about reading habits, history, and identity
  • In the moment writing that occurs during reading, mostly through the use of sticky notes and annotations to capture thoughts while engaged with the text
  • Longer writing to expand on ideas and develop deeper understanding through and across texts
  • Revisions to writing by revisiting previously-written responses to evaluate and improve upon their writing.

There are several instances in which focusing on writing about reading as a prioritized goal is appropriate. Some students may need to document their understanding of a text while reading in order to recall their thinking at a later time. Others may demonstrate strength as a writer but lack the ability to think deeply about their reading. Still others may need to focus on this goal when they are able to discuss a text at much higher levels than they can articulate their thoughts in writing.

As I think about the types of writing about reading I want to see in my own classroom, here are some of my favorite strategies from this goal:

13.9  My Reading Timeline  Students have an opportunity to reflect on their history as a reader and develop a visual representation of their life as a reader. This is a strategy I’ve used with young students, older students, and even teachers, and it is highly engaging and provides a great deal of information about reading identity.

13.6 What Can I Do With a Sticky Note? and 13.7 What’s Worth Keeping? Although these are two separate strategies, I like to pair them together. We all know that students who are just handed a stack of sticky notes will make good use of them–by using all of them. 13.6 focuses specifically on guiding students toward using sticky notes in meaningful ways. 13.7 builds upon this strategy by pushing students to reflect on the notes they have taken to determine what is useful for developing their understanding as readers and how they might further organize and develop these ideas in their reading notebook. Both of these strategies work well with whole or small groups and I’ve found that students often need repeated exposure to these ideas to be successful with using sticky notes while they read.

13.22 Idea Connections and 13.23 Pile It On These strategies are also very similar. In 13.22, students look across several of their best sticky notes from a text to look for connections, similarities, and differences. 13.23 builds upon this idea by asking students to collect all of the sticky notes on a common idea and synthesize them to demonstrate their thinking and share a new idea. Both of these strategies are for more advanced readers and will support taking students to much deeper levels of understanding as they read.

As I reflect on this chapter, I think what is most important is that it provides so many different options for supporting students in their writing about reading. Sometimes we want students to simply record their thoughts quickly on sticky notes, while other times we want to encourage them to sit down and really think on a deeper level about their reading and the meaning behind the text. This chapter supports both.

As you think through your own reading habits, your classroom work with writing about reading, and your work within this chapter, I’d love for you to reflect upon and share your thinking about some of these questions:

  • How do you record your ideas and write about reading as an adult reader?
  • What systems do you put in place to support your students in writing about reading regularly in your classroom? (In other words, what works for you?)
  • How do you make writing about reading authentic and meaningful for your students?
  • What strategies from Goal 13 have you tried? What has worked well with your students?

I can’t thank Croft’s Classroom enough for hosting this blogging book study of The Reading Strategies Book over the past few weeks. A fantastic collection of ideas, thoughts, lessons and resources for each of the goals have been shared by each of these amazing educators:

Goal #12 – A Teacher’s Ruminations
Conclusion – Crofts’ Classroom

If you haven’t read them already, make sure you check them all out!

 

Posted in Literacy

Permission (#SOL17)

The rain has finally moved away, leaving a chilly breeze coming through the windows.

The house is finally settled, the kids tucked into their beds fast asleep. 

The dishwasher waits in the kitchen with a load of clean dishes, still slick with hot condensation but needing to be put in their place tonight because I won’t have time in the morning. 

A half-finished grant proposal sits open on my laptop, needing more revisions as the deadline  looms closer and closer. 

A tangle of clean sheets and towels fill the dryer, waiting to be folded and put away.  

My phone lights up with messages from friends in my cohort asking each other questions about upcoming assignments for class. Assignments that I, too, should spend some time working on this evening.

My mom’s 60th birthday is only a few weeks away and there is a party that must be planned. 

There are blog posts to be written and emails to check. 

But. 

In front of me lies a book, marked only a quarter of the way through with a slip of scrap paper so I don’t lose my place. The characters are calling me with unanswered questions and unresolved issues. Somewhere in my email is a friendly reminder from the library that this book was due almost a week ago. So tonight, instead of doing any of the million responsible things I need to do, I’m going to settle down on the couch with a blanket, a book, and my dog. 

Some days you just need to give yourself permission. Especially on rainy Mondays. 

Posted in 2017, Classroom, Literacy, Reflection, Slice of Life, Writing

#SOL17 Day 31: 31 Lessons in 31 Days (Part 2)

This is the third year I’ve participated in the March Slice of Life Challenge through the Two Writing Teachers, and I can’t believe what a powerful month it has been each time. As I sit here and reflect on what this month has meant, what I’ve learned, and how I hope it has changed me as a writer and teacher going forward, I’m going to spend the last two days reflecting on the 31 most important things I’ve learned by participating.

  1. You have to be forgiving of yourself when you don’t write. Just like any good habit, it Image result for finish line beginning of whole new racewon’t always happen. Life gets busy. I’m committing to continuing my writing, but I also know that I will only stick with this commitment if I learn to forgive myself during the busy times when I can’t always squeeze it in. Each day is a new opportunity to write–even if you didn’t yesterday.
  2. Writing is always a work in progressFor years we have used the Units of Study mantra “When you think you’re done, you’ve just begun.” Living as a writer has shown me just how true this is.
  3. Technology has taken writing to a whole new level. Without blogging and Twitter and Two Writing Teachers, I might never have found the right tools and forum to have the courage to write and share my work. Technology connects us in powerful ways. We can’t forget that.
  4. Incentives are great, but the prize is the writing. I love how TWT includes little challenges along the way to push our thinking and help us connect even more. But there’s no disappointment or discouragement if a prize isn’t part of the experience. My reward is the work I’ve done and the things I’ve learned along the way.
  5. Writing makes you a better reader. We know, of course, that the opposite is true–the more you read, the better you write. But I have also begun to notice over the past few weeks that I’m noticing the craft of the writing in the books I’m reading more than ever before. (This makes me think about cooking–how much better things taste when you know the effort and love that went into creating them.)
  6. Writing captures who we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re hoping to go. My writing this year isn’t like the writing I did last year. My writing next year will not be the same as the writing I’m doing now. Our lives change, we grow, and our writing lives on as a snapshot of our current reality.
  7. Developing myself as a writer will make me a better teacher of writing. I look forward to sharing with my students the power of being a writer myself, the challenges, and how I work to overcome struggles.
  8. Writing isn’t just something you do, it’s something you areI’ve always considered myself a teacher who gets to teach reading and writing. Now I love thinking about myself as a writer who gets to teach children how to write, too.
  9. Each new piece of writing is a blank slate. It doesn’t matter if the last piece of writing was prolific or if it was a tremendous flop. Every time I click the ‘Write’ button to start a new piece is a fresh beginning with endless options.
  10. Powerful messages aren’t always told with words. Some of my favorite posts this month that I have read have included powerful images. I have to constantly remind myself of the power of visual media and work on thinking of ways to incorporate this more into my own work.
  11. Writers support each other. Even more than just an audience, the other writers this month have formed a support system. I can’t forget that in my classroom–there is just something so powerful about knowing there are people out there who are waiting to read your work and willing to be your cheerleaders.
  12. Goals don’t have to be shared to be transformative. I’ve kept pretty quiet about this challenge to my family and friends. I haven’t talked a lot about making myself write every day for 31 days. At one time I think I kept it to myself because I was afraid of not making it to the end, but I really think it’s because this goal was so personal that I didn’t need a push from anyone else to help me achieve it. I completely owned this goal.
  13. It is so important to share the power of writing. For the past two years, I have tried this challenge alone and have been afraid to share with the people around me that I was doing it. Part of me was a little intimidated that someone I know might read my work, and part of me was worried that the people I shared it with would think I was crazy for wanting to take something like this on. This year, however, two of my teaching friends–a classroom teacher and our instructional technology coach–have tried the challenge with me, and I have loved sharing this experience with them. I can only hope that more people will join us next year!
  14. Sometimes you have to take the time to look back at how far you have come as a writer. Participating in this challenge for three years means that I have hit publish 63 times (plus a few here and there as I’ve done the Tuesday challenge). As I sit back and reread my very first post from 2015, I can see how much more confident I am, how much more committed I am, and how much writing has come to mean to me.
  15. I am a writer. I could easily say I’m too busy to write. I have two small children and a husband at home. I’m finishing my doctorate. I’m returning to the classroom. I lead PD after school. My kids have activities almost every afternoon and on the weekends. But in spite of all of that, I have made writing every day for the past month work somehow. And there’s no reason at all to think I can’t continue to write regularly. After all, not only am I a mother and a wife and a student and a teacher . . . I’m a writer.

I’m excited to join other writers every Tuesday (and daily during the month of March) in 2017 to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge through Two Writing Teachers. Read all about how you can Write. Share. Give. on their website here.
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Posted in 2017, Literacy, Reflection, Slice of Life, Writing

#SOL17 Day 30: 31 Lessons in 31 Days (Part 1)

This is the third year I’ve participated in the March Slice of Life Challenge through the Two Writing Teachers, and I can’t believe what a powerful month it has been each time. As I sit here and reflect on what this month has meant, what I’ve learned, and how I hope it has changed me as a writer and teacher going forward, I’m going to spend the last two days reflecting on the 31 most important things I’ve learned by participating.

  1. Audience matters. Knowing that someone would read my writing every day was really important to me. I have thrived on comments from strangers, friends, and colleagues over the past month, and greatly appreciate everyone who took the time to read my work.
  2. Writing helps you learn about yourself. Unfortunately, time to really sit down and reflect is rare in the busy lives we lead. By setting aside protected time over the past month to blog every day, I have had time to really examine my beliefs, my worries, and my philosophies on teaching and life.
  3. Writing helps you learn about othersSome of the other writers in this challenge were strangers. Some were colleagues and friends. I learned something from and about every single one of them.
  4. Not all writing is your best writing. Spring Break fell right in the middle of this challenge for me, and I must admit that some of the writing I did during this “down” time was not the best writing I did during the month. However, no matter what, each piece developed a little something in me as a writer that wouldn’t have happened if I wouldn’t have stuck with it.
  5. Writing is about pushing yourself to try new strategies. I’m not the same writer I was at the beginning of the month. I have tried different formats and thought about things I never would have explored before this year’s challenge started.
  6. Revision really is important. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m kind of an “I’m done” sort of person. As much as I like to read, I don’t often reread books. When writing papers or doing work for class, I’m more likely to hit ‘Submit’ than to look back over it with a fine tooth comb. But I’ve gotten into the habit of revision this month more than ever before and started becoming a writer who can’t reread any of my own work without thinking of a little something I want to change or improve.
  7. Writing comes from the heart. The pieces that mean the most to me this month weren’t driven by what was on my mind but by what was in my heart.
  8. Everyone is a writer–but some people don’t know it yet. I’ve seen many different blogs from many different people from many different positions and places in life, and am amazed at the growth and insight people can gain from just a month of taking a risk and trying tImage result for writing quoteshis challenge. Myself included.
  9. Inspiration is everywhere. I was inspired this month by other blogs, by the books I was reading, by things happening at school, and by my own family and experiences. All you really need to do to find inspiration is look around you and look within.
  10. The best inspiration is from unexpected places. This month I’ve taken time to write about Breakout Edu in kindergarten, my grandpa, Lucy Calkins, and all of the changes taking place at my school. Each of these posts was inspired by something happening in my life at that moment.
  11. Writing is truly “living with your eyes wide open.” As I’ve looked around me over the past month, everything has seemed a little bit different. Sharper. Stronger. Worthy of being captured with words.
  12. Writing is healing. The changes taking place right now at my school are ongoing and won’t be settled for several months. I’ll never stop missing my grandparents or wishing my kids would stop growing up so quickly. Writing about each of these things has helped me embrace all of the things going on in my life.
  13. You have to find your own writing habits. After doing this for three years, I know now that I love to write late at night and always make sure to stay about a day ahead of the challenge.
  14. You are your own writer. Yes, we study mentor texts. Yes, we borrow ideas and formats from other people. But every writer is unique. No two writers could ever create the same piece of writing in the exact same way. That’s the beauty of writing.
  15. Once you start letting them in, some ideas that just won’t leave you alone. The day after I attended the Lucy Calkins workshop, I couldn’t get the things I wanted to write off my mind. I thought about it from the moment I opened my eyes that morning until the moment I hit publish.
  16. You don’t have to know where you will end up before you start. Many times this month I started with a seed, a little idea that inspired me. Some days I just sat down and began writing and let the words take me where I needed to go.

To be continued tomorrow as we cross the March Finish Line….


I’m excited to join other writers every Tuesday (and daily during the month of March) in 2017 to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge through Two Writing Teachers. Read all about how you can Write. Share. Give. on their website here.
    slice-of-life_individual     

Posted in 2017, Literacy, Reflection, Slice of Life, Writing

#SOL17 Day 24: My Grandpa, The Writer

It’s now been almost four years since the last time I was lucky enough to hear my Grandpa’s voice and see the twinkle in his blue eyes. When he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on St. Patrick’s Day of 2013, it was already the beginning of the end. The doctors optimistically hoped we would share one more Christmas with him; we didn’t even get the entire summer.

My Grandpa was a strong man. A World War II Navy vet who enlisted before he even turned 18. A businessman. He loved to fish and golf. He enjoyed daily walks and catching up with friends over a cup of coffee at the little shop on the town square. He was an avid high school basketball fan, rarely missing a home game or holiday tournament. He was kind and honest and a good friend to many. He loved his daughters and grandkids. He was the other half of my Grandma.

Pawpaw
My Grandpa with me on my wedding day

 

But he wasn’t the person I would have named if asked where I got my love of reading and writing. He was one of the most intelligent and practical people in my life, but I never saw him sit down with anything to read other than the daily newspaper. I never saw him writing anything beyond the business papers he typed up in his home office before he retired. Even our birthday cards were lovingly signed by my Grandma.

But last night, as my Mom and aunts worked to finally clean out his office in the home he and my Grandma shared for more than half a century, they found a drawer filled with letters and notes he had written. His familiar block-like handwriting filled page after page.

A few pieces were lengthy. A letter to the family of his friend who passed away, sharing what a wonderful man he was and how he would be missed. A narrative submitted to Reader’s Digest many years ago recounting a humorous story from his days as a traveling salesman.

Some, obviously from the later years of his life following the brain aneurysm that impacted his memory, were shorter snapshots of his daily life. Called Manu. He said he will call me back. He did.

As my Mom told me all about these notes today, her face lit up. She recounted how she and my aunts laughed at many of the notes; how they cried at others. I could tell, as she shared her favorites with me, that she heard his voice again as she read each one. I could hear it, too.

Writing isn’t always about creating something epic. Some writing is for an audience. Other writing is just part of our daily lives, reminders to ourselves of the things we’ve done or the things we still need to do.

No matter what, the words we write leave our imprint on the world. Each of the notes and letters that my Grandpa left behind are a piece of him. They have become a treasure for us to read and remember his voice and the sparkle in his eyes.

We don’t have to consider ourselves a writer to be one. We simply need to fill a page with the words we want to remember and the things that are important to us.

That’s what I learned from my Grandpa, the writer.

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One of my last photos of my Grandpa, playing race cars with my son

I’m excited to join other writers every Tuesday (and daily during the month of March) in 2017 to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge through Two Writing Teachers. Read all about how you can Write. Share. Give. on their website here.
    slice-of-life_individual     

Posted in 2017, Classroom, Literacy, Reflection, Slice of Life

#SOL17 Day 22: Five Things About Fifth Grade (Part Two)

Yesterday I wrote about how excited I am to begin teaching fifth grade in the fall. This excitement isn’t without some anxiety, though. Here are five things I’m worried about as I think about these upcoming changes:

  1. Trying too many new things at once. I’ve learned so much over the past six years and my core philosophy has changed so drastically that I’m worried about “biting off more than I can chew.” (Hopefully my level-headed team will keep me sane and help me decide what I can reasonably take on!)
  2. Social drama. I taught fourth grade for a long time and have worked in a lot of intermediate classrooms, so I’m no stranger to the conflicts that arise between kids. However, I don’t look forward to the drama that seems to escalate in fifth grade, especially the ways it’s fueled now by social media. I really don’t like seeing kids I care about hurt each other.
  3. Adjusting to less flexibility than I’ve had for the past several years. I’ve been able to do a lot of unique and interesting things because my job hasn’t fit into a perfect little daily schedule. I have been able to go to the bathroom when I need to and eat when I’m hungry. While I welcome having a routine again, it will be a big shift.
  4. Judgment. I’ve spent the past six years coaching and mentoring new teachers. Many people have been so supportive of this position, but there have always been a few who didn’t understand my role (and even a few of those few who haven’t always been nice about it). I’m afraid that when (not if) I make a mistake, those few will be waiting to judge. (Yes, they don’t really matter, but I think I worry too much about being viewed as “different” because of my time out of the classroom when I’ve never really viewed myself as anything other than a teacher who got to teach other teachers.)
  5. Balancing all of the responsibilities in my life. Since leaving the classroom, I took on the most important job I’ve ever had: Mom (I found out I was expecting my son the day before my last day as a classroom teacher). I also decided last spring to return to school for my doctorate in Teacher Leadership and will graduate at the end of next school year. My National Board certification is up for renewal next year, too. I will have a lot on my plate (and I’m going to have to be very smart about managing it all)! Again, this is where those level-headed teams (my home one and my school one) get to help me stay sane!

    I’m excited to join other writers every Tuesday (and daily during the month of March) in 2017 to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge through Two Writing Teachers. Read all about how you can Write. Share. Give. on their website here.
        slice-of-life_individual