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