Classroom grace in small things

Today I reflected on not having blogged in a while and what keeps me inspired lately. Here, in no particular order, is a list of things I’m loving right now:

Teaching art. When I get to look at a piece of art for a long time with my students and just talk about it. They have such interesting and unexpected ideas.

Teaching reading and writing. I’ve been concentrating lately on disciplinary literacy – teaching reading in math, science, and social as intentionally as I teach it it language arts. 

Remembering what it’s like to be an author. I decided instead of writing a throw away piece like I often do when modelling for students that I would write a piece I was actually working on. I think it might actually be something and that’s a fun place to be in.

Watching my students run the classroom routines. Seriously, this time of year the classroom just thrums like a well-oiled machine.

New books.

Student portfolios and reflecting on just how much they have learned.

Comfy shoes stashed behind my desk (and the student who comments how she likes them so much better than the other ones I had on – I confessed they were a bit pinchy.)

Remember to Breathe

There are days I literally forget to breathe; when I stand at the coffee maker and realize I am holding my breath and don’t know why. There are days I need to remind myself to breathe.

As classroom teachers, we work hard, often skipping much-needed bio breaks in favor of helping a student finish up that last bit of work he didn’t get to or rushing out the door to playground supervision.

We need to remind ourselves that we are not the ones who should be working the hardest in our classrooms; and if we are, our students are missing out on opportunities to reflect and consolidate understanding. Real learning takes time and reflection. That sometimes concepts are only mastered by walking away from actively thinking about them.

Teachers and students do better when we take time to take care of ourselves and remember to breathe.

As a teacher, a mom, an athlete, a masters student, I sometimes feel that every movement needs to be purposeful and that I must remember pick up those copies I made on the way back from recess supervision to save a trip (and who has time for an extra trip?). We (read: I) need to remember that time “off” serves just as important a purpose as time “on”. As an athlete, training is like wringing a sponge, but in order for the sponge to draw in as much liquid as it is able, it must come to a rest; a sponge that does not rest takes in less the next time around. The rest is as important as the work. Learning, I think, is the same.

Remember to play, to laugh, to rest. Remember to breathe.

Blackout Poetry

I don’t even remember how I was introduced to the work of Austin Kleon, but I have done blackout poetry with my students every year since. I was incredibly proud of my students today, pouring over books and newspapers, searching for the poems hidden within. My vice principal even dropped in for a minute for another reason and said, “Look how engaged your kids are!”

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Now what have I gone and done?

As I sometimes do over the holidays, when I have a few minutes to sit and think, I go and sign up for stuff. This time around I signed up for the RPS Half and an ETMOOC.

I have found that Twitter has completely changed my PLN, introducing me to tons of new people who share my view of education and with whom I can collaborate at anytime of day or night. My #pdgeeks are awesome!

So I signed up for and Ed tech massive open online course with 1200 or so other colleagues from around the world. I’m very much looking forward to learning and sharing. And I’m a little intimidated by the skill level already demonstrated by some other participants. This is gonna be good!