Celebrate This Week with #celebratelu: Loosening the reins.

Celebrate with Ruth Ayres @ ruth ayres writes  …. because, we need to celebrate moments in our lives every chance we get!

This week I celebrate loosening the reins.  All school year long, I make it a practice to start teaching two minutes before the bell rings.  I’m all about letting my kids know that I take their learning time seriously, that there is an urgency to our need to get to the work we must begin right away:reading great books, talking about them with passion and curiosity, writing from the heart, and learning about history – how things got to be the way they are, what we can do to bring about change.

That was then…

Now…with a few short weeks to go, it’s time to  loosen the reins.  My kids are exploding with summer excitement, and weary of the school routine.  For all the love that has grown between us, they do not wish to be in the classroom any more.  So, I step back, take a deep breath, and loosen the reins.  Like high strung thoroughbreds, they can sense it.  And they respond beautifully.  There is definitely more laughter and chattiness, but a word or a look from me brings them back in line.  No one wants those reins to tighten again.

On Friday morning, I looked out over a roomful of sixth graders prepping for a quiz.  They were dutifully going over notes, and I started to feel guilty.  What was I thinking? How mean was it to schedule a test the Friday before a long weekend? Ugh! So, I changed gears.  The test became a group project.  Here’s how we covered divisions between the North and South on the eve of the Civil War, the meaning of Lincoln’s great “house divided” speech, and the impact of Lincoln’s childhood on his character and outlook:


We had fun.

Yup, loosening the reins is definitely something to celebrate!


15 thoughts on “Celebrate This Week with #celebratelu: Loosening the reins.

  1. I love how reflective you are and that you changed your day in the moment. Look what came out of it!!! Those projects look amazing! This time of year is so challenging…loosening the reins is a great way to approach the remaining days! Certainly worthy of celebration!

  2. It is a sign of a reflective teacher who can assess the situation and change plans accordingly. I love how you switched things up for your students and as a result, you probably got better results than you would have with a quiz. Great idea!!

  3. It is only by establishing a well-oiled structure that you are able to loosen up without losing the kids altogether. I love how you compare them to high strung thoroughbreds. I hope the remainder of your time goes smoothly. This is such a tough time of year.

  4. Loosening the reins it may be; however, I’d say it was morphing your assessment into a period of learning and sharing their knowledge. I do think your analogy to those thoroughbreds rings strong to all who have ever taught 6th graders in the spring…..be strong…yet flexible at this last bend in the racetrack/

  5. What a great thing that a word from you pulls them back. I am impressed! I love the project idea- that spur-of-the-moment feeling is perfect right now.

  6. Isn’t it nice to let some of the plan go, and have another idea that allows the learning, and the group work that does just as much? Your students would have loved our Lincoln tour, Tara. Perhaps the Ford’s Theater museum website has some things to show you? Enjoy your weekend!

  7. I sure hope your students appreciate you. Changing from a quiz to a creative project must have so lifted their spirits. I could feel the smiles and creative energy in your pictures.

  8. Tara, applaudable that you read the room and decided how to make the most of a teachable moment. Your young thoroughbreds must have raced to the finish line with your new project. Enjoy the rest of the year.

  9. I love seeing how you’re able to loosen the reins as the year ends and flex your plans to accommodate your students. I bet more learning occurred with this assessment – a great lesson for all of us to remember. Switching gears – a sign of a master teacher who responds to each day and the students in front of her!

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