We are back to school tomorrow, our snow day having granted us a nice, long winter break. The first day back from winter break, I think, is almost like the start of a new school year, even though it’s technically not so. A new calendar year always feels like the start of something fresh and new and wonderful…even if it means returning to the same classroom, teacher, and students. Looking over my plan book, however, sent me into a panic. When I see all that remains to be done in what’s left of this school year, I began to think: what have I been doing all this time? I have taught so little!! Arghh!!
So, I did what anyone else would do under the circumstances – I decided to avoid thinking about my classroom by reading what other teachers were up to in theirs. I realize that this is not the smartest strategy since it often leaves me feeling even more inadequate and panic stricken, but this time I was lucky enough to click onto Read, Write, Reflect, and happen upon Katherine Sokolowski’s Celebration Saturday post, which began with this anecdote:
I was working on report cards in my room and another teacher came in. We were talking about what we had accomplished in the first semester of the school year and I made an offhand comment that I felt like I hadn’t taught enough.
What Katherine went on to discuss, though, was that she felt as though the focus of the first part of the year (the September through December part) was character. And this line really resonated with me:
I have been working so hard to help these kiddos become who they are meant to be, learn to be kind to others, and learn to be kind to themselves. It is exhausting, but rewarding work.
I read over Katherine’s post many times, thinking about my own classroom and kiddos. When I step back from my panic mode and breathe (thank you Mary Lee for your post!), I realize that we have accomplished a lot academically: we read more deeply, write with more intention and awareness of craft, and think about history more reflectively. Although there is a lot of work yet to be accomplished in the months ahead, we have come quite a distance. But, as Katherine wrote, the “character focus” was really front and center of all I did in room 202.
More than anything else, we’ve learned the habits of meaningful learning:
- that each learning moment in our classroom counts, is valued, and celebrated.
- that we choose our books with care and treat each one as a journey into other ways of thinking, being, living.
- that we find joy in stretching ourselves as learners – teacher and students, together in this process.
- that we listen to each other – the spoken and the unspoken – and value what we hear.
- that we support each other every day, celebrating successes and learning from mistakes.
- that we are kind to each other so that we can expect kindness.
“Rich and rewarding work” indeed. And, so I return to my planning feeling a whole lot better… we are ready for 2014 in room 202: bring it on!