This week I got interim scores from a district assessment. The unstated but very real message in this was: where do you rank and what can you do to pull up those scores. That evening I looked at questions on the test. I thought about them. I spent time and energy in that direction. And then I stopped. And asked, what is best for my students right now? And, how do I want them to leave my classroom in June?
That same evening, I picked up Katherine Bomer’s essay in The Teacher You Want to Be titled, “With and Air of Expectancy.” In it, she compares the word expectant, as in an expectant mother, to expectations, as in what students are to meet in the form of standards.
The word expectant connotes all of the wonderful possible that can be; it celebrates the impending joy. Expectant has an I-can’t-wait-till-you-get-there feeling, and it embraces the I-know-you-will-get-there belief.
Bomer reminded me of what I value, of why I spend so many of my waking moments caught up in my profession, of what I need to do tomorrow and every day after that.
I believe that learning is rooted in engagement and that engagement can only flourish in an environment that is joyful and responsive to the learner’s interest.
Now for the hard part. Where does that value exist in my daily practice?
Today, I’m looking back on the week to celebrate the places where my values showed up. The moments where I practice what I preach.
First: Daily commitment to 15 minutes of choice reading, writing, blogging, commenting, or wondering on Wonderopolis
Second: Daily blogging requirement none; daily average of 20 posts and 50 comments
Third: Twice daily book club talks before and after reading
Fourth: Daily commitment to Read Aloud with the focus on growing our community’s thinking and building the joy of reading
Fifth: Student choice of research topics, books, and partnerships
I believe these moments, these structures put learner interests alongside literacy practice. Each brings a bit of joy, a bit of engagement, and a bit of silly into the classroom. Each puts me on the sidelines, coaching in towards literacy expectations, on their terms. Each has me meeting them where they are. Each provides an opportunity to learn through reading and writing.
At the end of the day, the end of the year, students exceed, meet and approximate the expectations. Bit by bit, each student edges forward.
The worry I have is not the percentage that will meet the expectation this year. The worry I have is the learner who looks at coming up short as a reason to think they can’t or they won’t. The worry I have is that it’s not about this year. It’s about all that is to come.
Next week, I’ll sit down with families to look at student progress. If a student is less than, it could quite naturally slip into feelings of panic, judgment, failure.
These conferences will be an exercise in expectancy: of what is possible and how we can build towards that goal. It will be a reminder that learning is a constant state; that the future is full of possibility, that we are expectant. We know you will get there and beyond.
Thank you, Ruth, for your Celebration link up. Read more celebrations and post your own here.
9 thoughts on “Celebrate: Values vs. Practice”
“Learning through reading and writing,” that’s the key. You will guide the students and families to develop that knowledge of what can and will be. Enjoy your visits with families.
This is a very good perspective to have. I’m sure you will share with your parents the confidence you feel for your students. They can do so much when they know you are on their side.
“learning is a constant state; that the future is full of possibility, that we are expectant. We know you will get there and beyond.” Love this encouragement!
I love that you are starting with what you believe, what you know and asking how your practice matches this. All powerful.
It is important to reflect often about what’s working, what is not, & you do that so admirable, Julieanne. In the conferences, sharing “what is possible and how we can build towards that goal” will be so good, supporting the student, & encouraging parents’ help in the goals. I agree with your ideas. Choice is so important, reading & writing too. Keep going!
Beliefs and values build a strong foundation to successful learning. Hopefully the habits and attitudes that you help the students to have guide their self-awareness and learning more than a score on a test.
I love your spirit of doing what is best for your students, not what is the best way to raise test scores. In doing the first, you will accomplish the last.
“We know you will get there and beyond.” I love the way these words back up your beliefs. Now, I want to buy this book. Maybe it will be my gift to self. I still have a tiny bit left on the generous gift card to our local book store given to me when I retired. I’ve been saving it for a special book! I think you led me to it. And essays – one of my favorite genres!
You should buy it Ramona. It food for your teacher soul.