Day #29 Almost there…

Well, here I sit. Staring at a white screen.
Waiting for a muse to come and slap me upside the head
With a brilliant idea.

Would I even feel it?
That is debatable at this point.
I am exhausted from a long day at school
Then being a mother to three girls
Supper and a band concert.

Did I even stop to go the bathroom at all today?
It’s not just my mind. My whole body is numb.
My eyelids heavy with the promise of sleep.

I stare at the screen, not so white anymore.
Hoping my thoughts are coming across the space
Coherent.

Day #28

Am I training my students to have learned helplessness (or a fixed mindset)?

Yesterday, I started reading a professional book about reading instruction (Who’s Doing the Work? by Jan Burkins & Kim Yaris) that really got me to thinking. Am I denying my students the problem-solving process that leads to learning (and independent, life-long reading), because I am uncomfortable with their struggle?

I know better. I really do. Maybe it is the pressure of meeting the standards/targets. Maybe it the pressure of time. Maybe it is the pressure of fitting in. Maybe it is the pressure of responsibility. Maybe I just forgot who I am as a teacher and the art of teaching.

I need to go back to my heart. To what feels right, and makes students grow as readers. I have to remember that learning is a journey, and we are all in it for the long haul. Together, as a community of readers.

I am so happy that I found this book (shout-out thanks to my sister). It has realigned my teaching compass. I am back on the path. I can’t wait to chart my new course for tomorrow.

Day #21: Model of the World

“There are no “rotten apples.”
There are only people who disagree with your point of view on things,
people who construct a different model of the world.
I am going to tell you this:
No persons do anything inappropriate, given their model of the world.
— N.D. Walsch

Today I saw a child sitting by himself outside of his classroom on a wooden bench. I sat down next to him and asked him why he was sitting on the bench.

“I got kicked out of class.”

“Humm… why did you get kicked out of class?”

“Because the teacher said I was being disrespectful.”

“Oh. (pause) What did you do that was disrespectful?”

“I threw my project on the floor.”

“I see. Why did you throw your project on the floor?”

“I didn’t want to present in front of the class.”

I kept up the questioning, digging deeper and deeper. He told me that he didn’t like presenting in front of the class. He felt his project wasn’t his best work. And he had to read a lot since he had written quite a bit. I asked him if he talked to his teacher and told her how he felt about his project, and he admitted he hadn’t. He said she was really mad right now, and we both agreed that probably he should wait until she had calmed down. He said he didn’t think she would believe him about the reasons why he didn’t want to present, about how he really felt. I asked him why, and he said it was because this wasn’t the first time he has been bad and made her mad in class. I asked him why he kept acting this way, and he told me that he had been kept back, and he really resented it. He didn’t want to be in 5th grade again, he wanted to be in the 6th grade with his friends. I asked him if his teacher was nice and cared about kids or if she was just teaching for the money. He laughed and looked me in the eye and said she really cared.

“How many more months do you have left of 5th grade?”

“3 months”

“Do you want to do this all over again?”

“No.”

“Do you think she knows how you really feel?”

“No.”

“Teachers are really smart, but we can’t get inside kids heads and hearts. Maybe you should talk to her about how you really feel so that the next 3 months are not terrible for the both of you. Then you can move on to 6th grade from a better place.”

I left him pondering on the bench. If I didn’t want to present a project that was terrible in front of my peers, what would I be willing to do? This makes me remember that no child is ever a “bad” child. They act out defensively, because some part of them is being threatened. How can we take the “threat” out of school and learning so we can see a child as they really are, not when they are in fight, flight, or fake/freeze (as in playing dead) mode?