The three weeks have flown by and I need to slow down. I have some students with whom I don't feel I've connected or reconnected. I haven't really stopped to enjoy them. I do love and enjoy my job but sometimes, I just get going to fast to enjoy the moment. I think that next week I will put that as one of my I Can statements. Seeing it daily
I've decided that I absolutely, without a doubt LOVE how I am teaching literacy this year. I felt renewed when I read Leslie Blauman's two books this summer: The Inside Guide to the Reading-Writing Classroom and Kid-Tested Writing Lessons for Grades 3-6. I knew that I needed a change but wasn't sure how to go about it. Leslie spoke to me on a level that made me know I wasn't crazy in my thinking and reassured me to do what I know is best for my kids. She gave advice and always said to make it my own. For the most part, I am following her plans and tweaking them very little. However, I am making notes on what worked and didn't so I can revamp next time. I will say that I ADORE her BLBs (Book Lover's Book) and we use them every day! My kids are still getting used to them, but I see great things in the future. I really struggle to teach writing and I feel that Leslie's lessons are helping me guide my thinking and planning to better reach all of my kids. Already, their vocabulary awareness is improving!
I also can't get enough of Donalyn Miller. Her two books, The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild, starting challenging me two years ago. Since then, I have put a sacred 30 minute time in my schedule every day for kids to read texts of their choice. I confer with them and I try to model that I too am wild about reading. I don't get as much reading done during class but I read a couple book every weekend so I can keep up with them. They are challenged to read 40 books this year. I am doing it too. Some of them are already ahead of me! We so love our read to self time that when we can't have it because of powers beyond my control, the kids are not happy. I can finagle at least 15 minutes on those days and it's not enough time for them. I love hearing them whine that they just got to the good part!
I feel very confident in how literacy is progressing, but math, science, and social studies are more of a challenge. Math is hard. Our state standards are tough, but I know my students will be successful. I need to make more time for them to ask for help. Not sure when I will magically find that time, but I will. I have science three days a week and I integrate it into literacy as I can. However, social studies needs to be more integrated because I only have that once a week as a separate class time. I feel confident right now that we are still meeting our social studies standards doing it this way. I may change my mind later in the year, but for now, I am happy. I need to get more comfortable with our new science expectations so I can teach better. Science is scary for me, so it's the hardest to teach. But, my kids love the hands-on stuff so I will work more on that.
Overall, I guess what I am saying is that I'm excited about this year. It's going fast but I will enjoy the time I have with my class. I will make time for us to enjoy literacy daily. I will make time for kids to read what they want to read every day. I will model a love and life long decision to be a wild reader. I will make time for more questions in math. I will find more hands-on activities for science so we are all excited about it. I will keep doing what I am doing in social studies. Most importantly, I will work on connecting with my kids so they know I really care about them--both inside our class and outside of school. After all, we do spend more time away from school than in it. They need to know I care about them as a human, not just a student.
How have your first weeks of school gone? Reflect with me. Give advice. Encourage. Enjoy the moment.