I like celebrating, and today I am celebrating exhaustion. I just finished teaching a week of balanced literacy to teachers from around Southern California. I did this as part of a team of amazing teachers who make up Growing Educators. They just wrapped up their third annual Institute for the Teaching of Reading and Balanced Literacy. Teaching two classes kept me hopping all week long. Being part of a team of highly motivated and highly skilled teachers kept me pushing myself to be smarter, sharper, better. Doing this after just shutting the door to my own classroom put the captial E on exhaustion. So why celebrate? Why not just sleep!?
I celebrate how many teachers I met this week that are hungry to provide their students with more than just a textbook approach to literacy. When I first started teaching– back in the mid-80s– I was taught to open up the teachers guide to the anthology/textbook and look at the scope and sequence chart. That gave you all you needed to know about teaching reading. Period.
I disagreed. Pretty much immediately I figured out that kids should be reading whole books. And that it was a lot more complicated than that. Over the years I had the good fortune to work for principals who trusted me and allowed me to find my way and break the rules. And I was lucky to discover the work of Lucy Calkins- which spoke to me and helped me know I was not alone. Fast forward to today. After many trips to TCRWP and TCRWP-provided staff developments at our school, and other professional growth opportunities, I work with some amazing teachers who believe in and are successful at providing a balanced literacy education to the children at our school. I celebrate how we are never quite there, how we continually try to “outgrow ourselves.”
Which finds me in a position to teach other teachers about this. This is both exciting and frightening. I don’t think I really know enough to be an effective teacher of this, yet I do know a lot. I love teaching others about it because it makes me question every little thing I do and analyze each move I make and this improves my practice. That is why my husband hasn’t seen me for the first three weeks of my summer, which have just passed. PASSED! THREE WEEKS OF SUMMER! And I have been… prepping to teach and then teaching. I celebrate the learning and growth I forced upon myself, and I celebrate a patient and understanding (mostly) husband.
I celebrate the learning I did this week as a participant in the institute. Thank you Gravity Goldberg for reminding me that I am the manual. Want to teach something new to a child? Do it yourself and study your moves. There are your teaching points. It can be as simple as that.
I also celebrate the learning my colleagues are doing this summer, because it makes me look forward to the fall – ok late summer for LAUSD– and get excited to learn from them. Julieanne will bring back back tons of stuff from TCRWP, Josey and Karen learned some amazing improv/literacy tools this past week– and who knows what else. There will be more. How lucky to be a part of a group of teachers who value learning and sharing and getting better. I demand it of myself, and I find it in my team.
And now I think I will celebrate a little summer. Rest and relaxation. A good book. A nap.