Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

It is one of the hottest days of the summer today. Our record temperature and heat index might not mean much to those in Phoenix used to triple digit temperatures – but here in Western New York it is down-right H-O-T. The air is heavy, people are cranky, and my hair is out of control!!!

So it was nice to relax after work floating in the pool with my nieces. They have just discovered the power of words in the worst form of torture known to man: knock-knock jokes!! I suppose it is all worth it to see them doubled over with genuine belly laughs when they actually get one – but the jokes lose their appeal after about 3 minutes. Knock-Knock! Who’s there? Amsterdam Amsterdam who? Amsterdam tired of all these knock-knock jokes!

But they are only this young and innocent once and I cherish every moment that I get to spend watching them grow and develop into the beautiful, intelligent young ladies I know they will become.

So it strikes me that we don’t often take the same opportunities to step back and enjoy the moment with our students. We are worried about covering the breadth of our curriculum, racing towards the finish line of a state or district assessment. In this mad dash for completion, we forget to step back and model reflection and revision – good teaching practices that we throw out as unneeded ballast.

I am not the only one noticing this interesting trend.

Dana wrote in response to a previous posting
about the time she has spent with students in summer school on the thinking process: “Sometimes we forget, good teaching and commitment always will be the answer to test scores.”

And Melodee shared: “The last two days I have spent with a speaker at our school who talked about the reading strategies and the importance of modeling them, as well as giving children time to discuss, reflect and write. Of course as you and I both know many a teacher asked the age old question, "How do we fine time to do all this?"

Not sure that I have the answer, but what if we all tried a noble experiment. Instead of lamenting that “I have to teach X”, let’s instead proclaim “I get to teach X.” Imagine what would happen if we changed our mindset to think of our teaching as an opportunity!!!

Now – this experiment won’t be easy. Our peers will scoff, administrators may look astray and step to the other side of the hallway as we approach, and family members may begin looking into resort spas as therapy. Some of these may not be bad by-products of our experiment. But my hypothesis is that the true result of our experiment is that our students might actually enjoy what we are teaching – even if it is writing!!

"Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work,
so most people don't recognize them."
- Ann Landers


Melissa said...

Theresa, well-written. Although I have not heard the Amsterdam knock knock joke before, I certainly have felt that way many times.

When reading your blog, I linked to Dana's blog and attempted to comment on her most recent post. It appears that the blog is restricted to team members. I am wondering if she and others in your group (including you) would be willing to open up your blog to a more public domain - beyond those members that were originally invited? I will be referring members of our Chautauqua County Reading Council to blogs about reading and writing and would love to open up this conversation regionally.

Your blog is a joy to read.

Theresa G said...

Thanks, Melissa. We are all experimenting with this new way to publish our thoughts and reflections on writing and have been making plans to bring it to the classroom level!!

Teachers have been discussing virtual literature circles linking two classrooms around the same novel (Dana!)and scribing classroom notes (Donna and Maria) as just a start!! We'll keep posting about those projects and make links to those pages as well. The more the merrier.

I have not blocked the comments to this blog in any way - my feeling is that the more conversations about writing we have going, the more we will all learn from one another!! Dana and I have been experimenting moderating and limiting the comments on the blog she will be using with her students as a means to get around some of the security concerns the district might raise.

While we have had lengthy discussions on the need to teach our students to think critically, particularly in the Web 2.0 world, not everyone has seen the value in unblocking sites so that we can teach students how to discern credible, reliable information from that which is not. Donna shared with me a great lesson she is going to do with her students next year and I am hoping she will post it here for us all to see (and borrow!)