Normally, I would have been thrilled to have a two hour delay for school, but today I thought "Crap! I am not going to see my students today!" I was totally looking forward to teaching the strategy of closely reading for text evidence in informational text. With all the schedule changes, I wouldn't be able to coordinate having teachers come to watch as well as be able to attend PLCs, a PPT and plan a PD presentation with a colleague. For lack of a better description, I was pumped to jump into a rich informational text about Asian elephants and the risks they face with my students. I never in a million years thought I would say," Man, now my students can't learn about how humans are destroying the habitats of elephants!"
However, by teaching these two weeks of close reading lessons I have a new appreciation for the learning and engagement of the students. I am completely invested in this learning process and never imagined I would become so passionate and in love with the learning of my students as a guest teacher. I don't want to give the classroom back!
Now that I have been bitten by the Falling in Love with Close Reading strategies and Notice and Note strategies bug, my hope is to impart this knowledge onto my colleagues. The teachers and I are all learning how to implement the CCSS together. It has been a crazy journey together, but we are on the right path. I am such a reading dork, that when I hear a colleague have an "Aha" moment about teaching and their students, I literally want to jump across the table and hug them. I see their eyes light up. I see them become animated when they talk about student work. I hear them ask questions of each other and even question their own thinking! The teachers are thinking more deeply about their teaching, and recognizing excellent teaching goes beyond CMT strands and isolated skills. Test scores should not be the driving force in teaching, it's the students that should be!
The teachers I work with are constantly pushing each other and truly want to do what is right by students. We need to celebrate our students' successes by planting seeds of excitement, enjoyment and love in our teaching. One student told me, " You are happy everyday! I love that about you! It makes me happy!" My response to him was, "Of course, I am happy! I get to spend the morning reading and learning with you!"
Schools are a very stressful place right now. Teacher evaluations test scores, assessments, and SBAC are all looming over our heads. But with all the stresses we cannot forget our students. We cannot forget our colleagues. We need to not only listen to the needs of our students, but listen to the needs of our colleagues. As teachers in one of the most radical times I can remember in my 11 years of teacher, we really need to band together and work through this era of change together.
My grandfather gave me this advice when I started teaching- "Always go into school and ask your kids how they are. Pat them on the head. Let them know you care."
And I think that piece of advice can go along way for our teachers too.