Celebrate: Change

This week the instructional day was shortened due to parent-student conferences. Change in routine can be disruptive and uncomfortable, but it can also create an opportunity for growth.

First, the simple– PE was done at the start, rather than the end of the day. A large part of me hated the idea.  Another part of me said, consider it an experiment. We’d talked about the possibility of exercise before class. Would it be beneficial? Get the blood flowing so to speak.

The cool but sunny weather was perfect for stretching and a 10-minute walk, jog. Afterward, we entered the classroom noticeably quiet. Almost calm. Was it the exercise? Later in the week, I asked students for their thoughts.

There was a fair amount of, “Yes! It’s much better than the afternoon when it’s hot.”

There was a lot of head nodding and “it feels good” comments.

As well as, “Can we still play games on Friday?

Exercise doesn’t come up as one of those strategies for teaching reading and writing. But I know my focus is greatly improved after exercise. This disruption in our long engrained schedule was a good thing. Time for a change.

Now, the complex — During parent conferences, students shared their writing process and product. From what I could determine, this was joyous. Students had outdone themselves with revision. Comments like, “I thought I was done, and then I realized…” warmed my teacher-writer heart. Students would read their work aloud, see a needed change, and on their own, fix it with their parent beside them. Students shared their blog posts. Some boasted of being a top blogger. Students read their reading responses and commented on how they did it.

Parents asked: What can I do to help my child?

That’s easy. Read with them, read their writing, talk to them.

Parents asked: Are they where they should be?

That’s tough. I believe where students should be is on a trajectory of consistent growth. But that’s not what the parent is asking. And, I understand.  It’s every parent’s concern. These kiddos are going off to middle school next year. That’s a scary time. They’re worried. Will they make it?

For a short period in a child’s life, a teacher defines a child’s learning space and has a hand in how they develop as a learner. That’s a very big deal.

Which leads to the most difficult question: Are you (the teacher) doing enough?

I ask myself that question all the time. But do I ask it with the focus on that one child, their child?

Painful questions, but an opportunity to be a better teacher for their child.

This week I celebrate the unexpected growth that can come with change. Read more celebrations here on Ruth Ayres Discover Play Build link up.

celebrate link up




On Being a Teacher

Today my students rocked.  They have spent the last three weeks preparing for a traditional event – our school wide Colonial Faire. These fine fifth graders ran the fair from 8:50 to 2:35 with only breaks for recess and lunch.

They took on the roles of people in early Colonial America.

They taught children from 5 to 9 years of age.They learned how to manage children moving them from one place to the next.

The adjusted their teaching based on the children they had to teach.

Some of great lessons and comments came out of our meetings after the sessions.

When talking about how difficult it was to manage children, one said, “Don’t be afraid to be strict with them.”

And another shocked student commented, “I couldn’t believe a kid ran away from me.”

And more wise words, “If they don’t listen tell them to sit next to you on the ground.”

But one said, “My kids were good they did whatever I asked them to do.”

And some thought they had the cutest kids. “They hugged me afterward.”

I sit here at my computer writing. My feet hurt, but my heart is full. I am amazed at what students can do. When we give them a little guidance and have high expectations.

This year my fifth grade students showed learning, responsibility, maturity, independence, and compassion.

I am so proud. My students are ready to leave this school, to move on to middle school. I am honored to have the opportunity to spend an entire school year with these young people.

Being a fifth grade teacher simply rocks.