Slice of Life: Jumping Into the School Year

It’s Tuesday and Slice of Life is happening at Two Writing Teachers. Thanks to Dana, Tara, Betsy, Stacey, Beth, and Anna. Join in and post a slice. Read more here.
11454297503_e27946e4ff_hIt’s the first day of school, and we see nothing but possibility.  Armed with new shoes and a new backpack;  we know this year will be different, better, maybe even great.

But success doesn’t come easily for everyone. It will take work and desire to achieve our goals. We may be tempted to give up. Get out, because it seems like we won’t  get there. The desire to succeed fades when the work load feels impossible.

The question is, how do you find reason to come back and try again when it would be easier to give up. How do you work harder, even though you aren’t there, yet.

The struggle to achieve academically always reminds me of swimming. I’ve been a runner all my life, but over time I’ve had to run less.  Masters swimming, a team activity, has become a supplement to my daily run. You have a coach and swim in a lane with a group of people at your level. There is a fair amount of socializing during and after swimming.  The fast “kids” swim in different lanes on different intervals. The coach gives stroke instruction and modifies the workout, based on ability. Some can go faster and do more, others take it slower and do less yardage. Sound familiar?

I’m not one of the fast kids, and I’ve accepted this. No illusions. And even though I struggle, I still come back.  Some days are better than others and I think, hey I’m not so bad. Some days I get a tip and it gives me something to focus on. I feel like I’m getting better.  As I look over at those swimmers who are so fast and make it look so easy, I wonder why do I keep coming back.  I’ve come up with this list  — the good days, the tip that gives me a boost and focus,  the friendship of swimmers like me to achieve our goals no matter the level, and I actually like doing it.  I work hard  for  a couple of reasons when people in my lane push me, when I am given personalized instruction, feedback, and when I think the coach is watching.

How could this look in reading and writing?  Coach students so they find the good days,  provide the tip that gives a boost and focus, allow for social connections to build community, and find things in reading and writing they like to do. Group students with like abilities, but also with those who can give a push. Give instruction, feedback, and monitor.

Today we start our 5th grade journey. We’ll jump in and warm up, opening our notebooks and putting the date at the top of the page. Later we will do our best work  on demand, showing how well we can write.

We will work with others like us and find connections. We might find we like it, and decide to work towards goals that might seem hard, but with instruction, community, feedback and close monitoring, we will work harder and keep coming back for more.

Happy first day of school.


9 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Jumping Into the School Year

  1. HaPpY FiRsT DaY of ScHoOl!!!!! So exciting! I absolutely love your discussion of running & swimming and comparing it to reading & writing. Oh, that’s going to float around in my brain. I’m thinking about how I can share that with my students when we start. Those fifth graders have no idea how lucky they are!!!!! Have the best day (and year) ever!!!

  2. I think we are so lucky professionally to have these cycles of beginnings and closure. With such a thoughtful teacher your students will have a wonderful year! Important work that changes us isn’t easy, but you are so right, it is having skilled coaching that makes us stay, helps us to taste and achieve success.

  3. I love the analogy 🙂 Masters swimming has given me a new outlook on swimming – it’s an individualized sport, but at the same time we do work together to push ourselves and each other. I’ll think of this post as I swim tonight!

  4. Best wishes for a marvelous first day, Julieanne. Perfect analogy here-remember the parts that keep one coming back! We’ve talked a lot about grit lately at school, how one ‘gets’ it, what one does with it, and on. Thanks for reminding me of those parts that are helpful.

  5. You sound so ready for a great, fresh new year. I miss the “first day of school” even after 10 years out of the classroom. So keep the energy glowing and growing Julieanne. We’ll be riding shotgun with you. 🙂

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