Slice of Life: The First Day

School is here, and those first-day jitters fill me. They always do.

Today, I hold up what drives my teaching practice, my values.  Thinking about this helps focus the first day of school and each and every day throughout the year. These values provide a filter.

First: I value time. Time for students to do the work. Time to read, to write, to think and to discuss. Students should spend at least 80% of their time doing the work. If not, who is learning.

Second: I value authenticity. If I can not see the practice in the world, if I would not do it myself, if I have not tried doing it, students should not be doing it.

Third: I value choice. Students should have a reasonable choice in what they read and write. Choice allows for accessibility and greater engagement. Without engagement, there is no learning.

Fourth: I value “yet.” All students can learn, they just may not be there yet. It’s our job to keep them growing.  And, growth is linked to time. Getting better at something requires time doing it. Something to remember with our students who struggle. They need time to do.

Fifth: I value relationships that respect the individual as a part of the community. Building relationships takes time and lots of listening.  It is essential for a classroom that works toward cooperation, not through compliance. Without relationships, everything else is compromised. I start my year, with this on my mind.

Today, I hold on to words of my wise colleagues.

I have Tara’s words

On that first day, they are watching me more closely than they possibly ever will, I need to show them that I practice what I preach.

Jessica’s words

The minute you walk through that door you become one of my students.

and Dana’s words

Writing workshop thrives on relationships and builds them at the same time.  Be intentional as you plan the first days and weeks of your writing workshop.  Make room for relationship building.   Relationships matter.

Their words center and calm me.

Tonight, I pull out my notebook and write. What I want for our class. What I value. What I want to run through each and every lesson of every day.

We will

start with writing

and add in the reading

look for the bits of the literary in our lives

that hide in the music, the recipes, the directions, the video games.

We will

generate powerful-purposeful-personal thoughts

and define us as readers and thinkers.

This year

we will

discover what we value

develop our passions

notice what bothers us and

move to make a difference.


we will

find the inspiration that pushes us to do more

reach to the top of the tree and look out

hang on knowing that we are there for each other.

Thank you, Two Writing Teacher for space to share and support each other. Thank you, Anna,, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Read more slices here.