Thursday, June 27, 2013


Reading didn't go quite the way I hoped for in my room this year.

We all know some particular combinations of students will make for different experiences from year to year; this class did have more students who were not reading 'at grade level' when they arrived but was that the reason things were not as successful?  I am not sure.

With all the current emphasis on putting the "right book in the right hands at the right time", with our "baggie" books going home in primary grades, levelled texts and guided reading sessions continuing up in to elementary classrooms now, are more students really engaged in reading? Choosing to read on their own?

I'm not so sure any more. I certainly didn't see it this year.  Have we, as educators, missed the boat with how we are 'doing' reading? Is it just a school issue?

I do know parents have become (overly) concerned about the level of the books brought home, particularly in primary grades here and may be communicating the anxiety about 'moving up' to their children instead of recognizing the time and practice that is built into any process of learning. That being said maybe the Home Reading program needs an overhaul in its approach to record keeping and reading logs and  ensuring that its only "just right" books that go home.

I do know that there are many (and major) distractions in our students' lives, enough that even if the only homework (more on that topic later) is reading, it does not routinely get done or is frequently completed under stress and in less than ideal conditions.

I do know more and more students have devices on which they spend hours after school instead of reading ...or reading in different spaces than we normally consider. That's a factor that has to examined.

Image from here

I have tried different approaches to foster the love of reading while aiming to ensure our English Language Arts outcome that refers to students' ability to select and read across genres is met.

Letting Go

So here I am ... in the middle of the first week after school finished.  I have time on my hands for a change (especially after completing my Master's) and so I have been musing about the past year and considering what I would like to do with the weeks ahead.

These first few days after school finishes are for letting go!

In cleaning up my desks (and moving classrooms) I have come across notes, sheets, articles and lots of treasure/junk that I have had to decide to keep or let go.  A lot of it I threw out! If I haven't used it or thought about it in the last year, then perhaps it wasn't as useful as I thought.  Let it go!

Letting go this week also means easing out of the care and concern for the twenty-two students who have been "my" kids for the last ten months.

No longer do I have to wonder if they are getting enough sleep or if she is still thinking  about her little brother and the operation he needs or if he is still fretting about the death of his cat. No longer do I have time to support her growing willingness to speak up or his to pipe down! No more time to spend laughing at her jokes or smiling at his stories.

As the summer goes on, no longer will I have to worry about their grasp of multiplication, or reading strategies or...  No longer do I need to find more time to carry out tutorials, to phone home, to meet with the team to plan interventions, and to prepare for mini-lessons and individualized conferences to address this need or that one.

I also have to let go of the doubts. I have to let go the nagging thoughts about whether or not I spent enough time with each child, if I coulda, shoulda said something else ... done more.

I have to let go of unrealistic expectations and use (some of) the time now to reflect on my own practice...what would I do differently? Why?

I also need to let go of my teacher "hat" and put on ones with more personal labels.  Then I will be ready to meet and greet the next bunch of Great Grade Fives in the fall!

So here's to letting go...
Image from here

What in particular are you reflecting about? Pondering and planning?
What hat will you wear this summer?