Wednesday, March 21, 2018

31 Teaching Truths

Photo by Fischer Twins via Unsplash

21. Trust yourself.

Come up with your own idea about how teach that lesson. Think about the process you use to make meaning when you read, think about how you go about organizing your thinking for a writing piece. Trust yourself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

31 Teaching Truths

Photo by Fischer Twins via Unsplash

20. Go ahead and cry.

Some days are hard. Sometimes the weight of everything those thirty young souls carry around while they are working to master opinion writing and division with decimals and the similarities and differences between light and sound is just to much to bear. Sometimes the weight of everything you are carrying around is too much to bear.

Then pick yourself up and get back at it.

Monday, March 19, 2018

31 Teaching Truths

Photo by Fischer Twins via Unsplash

19. Be "The One Who..."

First there was CRB. She was the one who unlocked all the rooms on the second floor because she got to work insanely early. (Wait...did she unlock ALL the doors on both floors?!? I wouldn't put it beyond her.)

She retired and Coop inherited her classroom and carried on the unlocking tradition.

I'm the one who makes the candy that gets delivered after Thanksgiving break. There's the one who always organizes the fashion show for Multicultural Day, the one who cleans out the fridge in the lounge and makes the schedule for Friday treats, the one who serves on the district Leadership Academy committee, the ones who are brave enough to sing karaoke in front of all the students in the school. There used to be the one who sang "Summertime" a cappella over the PA system after the buses pulled away on the last day of school. We miss her. No one has picked up that tradition. Hard shoes to fill.

One of the things that makes our building amazing is our community, our culture. It takes everyone being willing to be "The One Who" to make that kind of community and culture happen. It starts with one and it spreads.

Are you "The One Who?" Or is it time you pitched in and became "The One Who?"

Sunday, March 18, 2018

31 Teaching Truths

Photo by Fischer Twins via Unsplash

18. Be prepared.

Sometimes I forget how smoothly things flow when I make extensive and detailed plans. Last week when we were ramping up our long division skills back to where 4th grade leaves off, I not only created strategically mixed-ability small groups, but I also planned out where in the classroom each group would work. Gone was the chaos of choosing a partner and finding a spot to work.

If only there were enough hours in the day to plan that way for every subject every day all week long.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

31 Teaching Truths

Photo by Fischer Twins via Unsplash

16. Build in choice. (they raise their own bar)

Choice is one of the most powerful teaching moves we have in our toolkit. It's one thing if you offer a list of choices for work time, but your classroom community operates at a whole new level of trust when you teach a couple of adding fractions math games and then, in making rounds and checking in with partners and groups, you find that some boys have invented their own game which requires them to practice adding fractions in a WAY more complicated (and interesting) manner than any of the games you offered. A reminder here that when you see something going on in your classroom that doesn't look like what you expected, slow down and get information before you fly off the I'm In Control Here/Do What I Say handle.

Friday, March 16, 2018

31 Teaching Truths

Photo by Fischer Twins via Unsplash

16. Raise the bar.

Up the ante. Kick it up a notch. Set a deadline and stick to it. Is teaching your job, or are you a professional?

Oh. You thought I was talking about raising the bar for your students. Well, yeah, raise the bar for them, too. That's what we do all the time as we build their understanding of more and more complicated ideas and content.

But if we're going to apply this saying to the work you ask your students to do, then please remember: when you raise the bar in a game of limbo, you make it easier to get under. So every now and then, maybe you should raise the bar for the wiggle under and not the vault over.

And how about this: if we change the spelling of raise, we totally change the nature of the game: raze the bar. What would that look like in your classroom?

Poetry Friday: Saying Goodbye

Unsplash Photo by Steve Johnson

Saying Goodbye

The storage unit is pitch black
The boxes 
are stacked right where we left them. I kick one with my shoe 
and wonder what I’m going to do with these boxes 
once I get them home. There will be new 
piles of boxes 
in our basement. I’d rather have you 
back than all these memories stuffed into boxes.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2018

This Golden Shovel was written for the March 2018 Ditty Challenge using part of a line of a poem by Devon Hope. I wrote it to remind myself that I can write in this form. (I wrote one last April for Malvina Reynolds.) I wrote it because of my poem-a-day challenge for April (coming up at the speed of time). When I began my "sort of a Slice of Life Challenge but not really" for March, I hadn't decided what I'd do for my Poetry Month challenge. I was talking to my students about the goals and challenges writers set for themselves and one of them laid down the gauntlet. Our classroom family has since grown from 29 to 30, so...why not. I've never in my career had 30 students (never again, please), so why not write a poem about each child? Never one to make things easy for myself, I've had each student choose a quote that resonates with him/her. 

In April, I will write a Golden Shovel for/about each of my 30 students using the quote they chose as the poem's "striking line."


Linda has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at TeacherDance.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

31 Teaching Truths

Photo by Fischer Twins via Unsplash

15. Notice.

Every day try to make sure you really SEE every student. Every single one. 

Especially notice the ones who work hard every single day on every single assignment. Notice the ones who are always quiet in line. Notice the ones who come right to the carpet when you invite the class to come close for a mini lesson or a read aloud. Notice the neat work. 

But also notice the head down, the clouded face, the grumpy demeanor, the short temper.

That old saw about teachers having eyes in the backs of our heads? So far from the truth. We are ALL eye, because one of the most important things we do all day long (every minute of every day, in case you were wondering why we're so exhausted when we get home) is...


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

31 Teaching Truths

Photo by Fischer Twins via Unsplash

14. Celebrate risk-taking.

Value the words, "I'm not sure, but..."
Cheer on the "I used to think, but now..."
Validate "Would you check this to see if I'm on the right track?"
Honor "I think I know!"

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

31 Teaching Truths

Photo by Fischer Twins via Unsplash

13. Plural possessives will happen. But probably not on your timeline.

J. was working on his opinion piece this afternoon. I had given the class articles from ReadWorks about the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the Shasta Dam. Their job was to choose the most amazing of these two human-made structures and back up their choice with reasons and facts from the articles.

The article about the dam told about ways the dam was harmful to the native salmon, but also some temperature control innovations that helped the salmon. I nearly fainted from joy when J. asked, "Where do you put the apostrophe if you've got lots of salmon?" We had a quick lesson on singular and plural possessives. He was ready to learn. Even more than that, he had identified exactly what it was he needed to learn.

Today I was in the right place at the right time. When that happens, savor the moment.