Slice of Life: Reflecting and Reality

I stand in the kitchen, thinking:  Slice of Life. What could I write? I’m confused right now. But knowing that we, my students and I, are going to start a four-week cycle of Slice of Life blogging (thank you Tara for your inspiration), I knew I had to write if for no other reason than to experience writing when I don’t know what to say, or when what I have to say isn’t the best thing. So I write.

My reality, when I step back and really look, is often not as bad or as good as I thought.

Last week I viewed a writing workshop lesson I had done. Before I watched, I felt pretty good about it. It was a lesson with all the bells and whistles and tons of conferring work. Then I watched it. I saw some good, but what I saw and heard made me cringe. My voice. Stop talking is all I could think. So I’m pushing myself, once again, to take more of a backseat approach and just let things move without my every direction and correction.

Today, we read aloud a great part of Wonder.  Students were engaged; loving the book. Then recess and lunch happened.  

Students returned, pink cheeked, sweaty, loud outside the classroom door. On their desks was feedback on work they did last week. They came in. I waited for them to settle. I asked them to review the comments, jot responses in their notebooks, and then get to reading.  They had books and time. They know how this goes. I waited, so I could get conferring started. I waited. Redirected. Waited some more. Watched. Redirected again. Waited. Finally I had had enough and I brought in the moves to make them settle. They felt the bit of disappointment and irritation in my voice. 

I expected students to be self directed after lunch and recess. A recess filled with drama. A recess so far removed from the moments of our read aloud and our classroom space. What was I thinking? While they should have been able to settle sooner, the move I was asking them to make was too much, right now. They couldn’t make the turn from play outside to quiet thoughtfulness in a book.

This evening I cleaned. I do that when I’m frustrated. Solution? Next steps?  My thoughts were going like this: I really don’t want to tell them how to move, how to breathe, how to take every step when they know how it goes.

But, do they really know how this goes?  They may know what is expected, but have they ever learned how to settle on their own. You’d think I’d see this sooner, but this is an aha moment. My thoughts and goals, that are down the road a bit, colored my expectations rather than the reality. We need the baby steps, Oops, I forgot.

Sorry guys. I get it. I think. And after writing, I can see a little better.

Thank you Dana, Tara, Betsy, Stacey, Anna and Beth at Two Writing Teachers for this space that helps me reflect and self correct, again and again. Read more slices and share your own here.11454297503_e27946e4ff_h

18 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Reflecting and Reality

  1. Wow! Parallel words. I was feeling the same frustration yesterday. I can hear that self-talk all day long through your writing. So much on our minds and what-to-do, what-to-do when our students don’t act as we planned? Writing seems to clarify things just a bit, doesn’t it? I think its the reflection embedded in it that we so naturally feel the need to skip as busy teacher/adults.

  2. Oh I love your reflective posts!!! My students are working on slices too! On paper right now…soon to blogging. Those AHA moments seem to slap me in the face sometimes (in the best way)! Oh how I wish you were down the hall, so we could talk about this face to face. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next with your after recess time. 🙂

  3. What a thoughtful and open Slice! You are watching and reflecting about your work A LOT! Suggestion- take or leave- what about when kids come in after recess and can’t move on to reading, why not have them write a slice about their recess experience? Moving them from their reality to yours…

    • Hmmm, if I could only replay this day! Writing would have been just the ticket. So often I’m glued to The Schedule! Thanks for your thoughts to start my day.

  4. I’m also trying to talk less so the kids can talk more. It is hard sometimes. I have a very chatty 4th grade class and we are still “refining” our transitions. They’ve come a long way in 15 days.

  5. I’m learning the lesson of talking less, listening more as a coach, Julieanne, & it isn’t easy at all. I really can’t remember what being a relatively new teacher is like, so when I “hear” certain things, I want to jump in to fix them. Argh! I love your post, and the words that speak most to me are “baby steps”. We can’t run marathons without learning to walk first, then jog, then run. One idea for settling, if it fits: some teachers at school have begun the habit of having their students come in and silent read for about 15-20 minutes. It takes some time to create the habit, but they say it really works wonders with helping students settle in, relax after the intense play, etc. Best wishes with your group, & with biting your lip when you want to say more!

    • Thanks Linda! Those habits are just what I’m thinking could be a part of the “how to.” I’m thinking of rituals we need to settle. This could be a part of it.

  6. Transitioning from loud active time to quiet and thinking time is a tough transition. Your reflective nature will make this frustration into a learning situation.

  7. I loved your honesty here, Julieanne. After recess is such a challenging time of day for most kids, isn’t it? When I had a very ‘dramatic’ class (That’s a nice way of saying it, right?!), I used to give them “peace time” for ten minutes daily after recess. It was the only thing that allowed me to have some level of sanity in the afternoons!

  8. Love the way you weave reflection into everything you do – even redirecting students’ attention. I think our kids need that repetitive and consistent building of habits – some days go better than others, though, and they need to know that you expect better.

  9. You describe so well how I have felt and what I have thought so many times. Thank you! Goal for next week, talk less and take baby steps. And then keep reminding myself of it…

  10. I have SO experienced the things you so openly reflect on in this space. So excited to see your students slice posts. I love how you consider that maybe they don’t actually “know how this goes”. Helps with the frustration around students doing something other than what we think is crystal clear.

  11. Thanks for this reminder to take baby steps, Julieanne. I always appreciate your thoughtful, reflective posts. It helps to know that you are asking many of the same questions I am, even if you are 3,000 miles away!

  12. You are making time to pause and reflect even on small moments when many would have just brushed off and forgotten what happened after lunch. I appreciate your honesty.
    I sometimes think I have to learn proper meditation to be able to slow down and talk less.

  13. It is such a challenge at the beginning of the year to remember that we do need to step back and take smaller steps. that these children are not at the stage we left our group in June. Sounds like you made great discoveries. Wonderful post.

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