Shut the Front Door and Teach

My profession affords me the ability to get grounded and focused simply by shutting the door and teaching. I celebrate this.


You can celebrate too, or read other celebrations by clicking here.

This week was not fun. It was exhausting. It was frustrating. It was sad. And, being the end of the first week after daylight savings time either ending or beginning, can’t ever remember, I was not surprised – never seems to be a good week! Without going into details… some of the adults in my district in the City of the Angels are not acting in the best interest of students, instead they are throwing up roadblocks.


And so yesterday, I reacted by closing my door. With perhaps a little more passion than usual, you know- whistling in the dark– I read aloud a few chapters of Absolutely Almost and Andy noticed that the chapter called “some bugs” had a double meaning, because even though it was about a bug, it was really the author’s way of telling us that Darren was really starting to BUG Albie and Betsy, and, further, he was noticing that this was becoming a pattern and was probably going to be a big problem in this book. WOW Andy! I have been learning with you for thirteen weeks and on the last day of that thirteenth week you hit it out of the park! You have been paying attention! YES!

Then we entered the scariest writers workshop of the year for me. We took all of the material we had been collecting for our first-ever essays and started assembling them, finally, after much rehearsal. Shana Frazin always used to say, the less you know, the slower you go. Even though I have done this unit for six years, this part still feels like jumping off a cliff for me. So I did.  I modeled the process for one paragraph with the one we have been writing together. I gave them three things to remember: 1. You choose the order of your evidence and stories for a reason, 2. You use transition words and phrases to help things flow together, and 3. Repeat key words to help your reader see the connections between your evidence and your thesis. As they went off to try it, I stepped back and observed. They pasted, cut, taped… and looked like people who knew exactly what they were doing. Almost 100% engagement. YES!

After lunch we became scientists, using some large rocks as our focus for developing some questions we have about rocks and earth science in general. These questions will help guide our unit. I used the QFT technique from Make Just One Change.


 They loved it. Their conversations were rich with scientific language (we have been building background knowledge in shared reading for a few weeks), and they were once again, fully engaged. We have more work to do next week, but we are off to a strong start.

Celebrating at the end of this dark week has been very important for me. Understanding that I have the power to change my outlook, influence my little sphere, and settle myself down all through what I do for “my job”  has been a great AHA and a reminder. When the going gets tough, shut the door. Teach. Breathe. Repeat.



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7 responses to “Shut the Front Door and Teach

  1. Your words remind me of the Haim Ginott quote that begins: “I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom.” The rest is at Glad you made the decision to do things a little differently & it worked! Love the story of your student’s book response. How great it is! Have a good weekend!

  2. Yes, I agree with that quote 100%. The day could easily have gone south… I felt it brewing in me! My frustration was right up in front. Pushing it out the door was really hard for the first hour, but worth every ounce of energy it took to do so. Thank you Linda!

  3. Terje

    Love, love, love the moments when a student shows that he/she has been thinking along and digs deep with understanding. This along with questions during inquiry and daring as writers makes a teacher’s heart sing. Wishing more of these moments for you next week. I hope that the adults start coming to senses too.

  4. Our treasured moments are always in our classrooms. Shutting the door allows you to create those amazing learning lessons. Shut your door and continue to teach – hooray!

  5. We need to be conduits for change no matter what those around you do. In the end you do what matters – providing opportunities for beautiful thinking. Great celebrations. Great teaching – going around those road blocks, not letting it stop you. Hurray for you and your 4th graders.

  6. The adults I our world don’t always get it, however, when the kids do…best Aha moments ever! As always, you do what you do because it matters! Thanks for starting my Monday off with a better outlook to share with teachers!

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