celebrate-image-1Today I celebrate a surprise in December. And you can read more celebrations here

It was one of those moments I dread. A small group of my students were sitting patiently, waiting for me to tell them what I thought. Waiting for my judgement. I knew I had to make a decision, but I didn’t want to make it. I didn’t want to disappoint or discourage anyone. Yeah, that is a part of life, but why do I have to be the one to teach that lesson?

We were holding auditions to find our MC for our Traditional Literature Awards Ceremony. Six of my students had stayed in at recess, given it their best shot, and were looking to me for the results. Suddenly it hit me, it flew out of my mouth before I thought it through. “You guys saw the performances, you decide! Think it over for a moment, and then we will share what we think.”

I knew there was a clear “winner”, and wondered if they would agree. They did. They all smiled and said J’s name first. They shook their heads in disbelief, as if they couldn’t believe how obvious that had been. We decided to let him be the lead, and he would give the others a spot to announce some of the awards. Everyone wins. I was impressed with how they solved the problem, and came to a solution, and made everyone a winner… all without me.

That was an eye-opener to be sure, although it has started to be the norm in my classroom this year–all without me– so the surprise factor should be tuning down for me. The best surprise, however, was who came out in the lead. This child is one I am concerned about. He misses a lot of school. His parents worry that he doesn’t easily make friends. But here he was, on fire, as a masterful, improvisational master of ceremonies! It did not escape me that if I hadn’t given them a chance to audition, and just went on what I thought I knew, this wouldn’t have happened.

During the ceremony his mom came to me, she had shivers she said. “This is what we see at home, this is the J we know! I am so thankful he had a chance to shine at school. Thank you!”

Surprise! Here is to more surprises this year. My number one goal this year is to BALANCE (my OLW) my classroom so that my students have chances to surprise me and themselves at anytime. I need to teach carefully, but I also need to step back and let things go the way they will. Follow the energy. Get ready for the surprises.



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4 responses to “Surprise!

  1. As a fellow book nerd, I’m loving your site!


  2. Cathy, I love your story, a serendipitous decision that turned out beautifully. At my school we say “we’re all in this together, & students make many of the decisions. It takes a lot of trust, but it works. Best wishes with that balance!

  3. Your last lines, “but I also need to step back and let things go the way they will. Follow the energy. Get ready for the surprises.” really struck me. It’s so true…the kids always come through. I’m so glad your student had a chance to shine. 🙂 Happy New Year!

  4. Cathy, the aha! moment came for you when you realized student choice and voice are important ingredients to learning. “The teacher as the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage”

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