Friday, September 2, 2011
So I had every intention of posting here during the first week of school, but as is often the case the first two weeks of school completely wiped me out. It was all I could do to drag myself home every afternoon and make dinner for my family.
I've had my afternoon nap, so I feel ready to reflect on what's happened so far.
Lessons these first few days have focused mostly on "here's how you do this" and getting to know my students as readers. The first day each of my classes talked about what has to happen in order to have a "good class." We made lists on chart paper and then compiled our class norms from those lists. Here's what my classes had to say:
As seventh graders, they've had many experiences in different types of classes, and the things that stood out to me as a result of our conversations are that kids really want teachers who listen to them and treat them with respect. The kids in my classes also wanted to be challenged but at the same time have fun. I have a feeling that these three classes are going to quickly grow into supportive learning community, something that is important for my classroom to run the way I envision.
Every year, part of me feels like I should jump in from day one with the business of my content. The part of me that respects the workshop process knows that spending the time building these relationships and routines will pay off later. I am honoring the time it will take to build these groups.
The most exciting thing so far is the sheer number of library books students have checked out of my classroom library. The books are flying off of my book displays, and I actually have empty baskets, something that has rarely happened in the past. I have waiting lists for the three Hunger Games titles, Divergent, and Darth Paper Strikes Back. The kids are talking to each other about the books they love and selling these books even better than I could. During my "getting to know you" reading conferences, they are eager to talk about genres and authors they love and have definite ideas about first quarter reading goals. I'm hoping the same thing happens next week as we begin to talk more about students as writers.
September is a rosy time in my reading-writing workshop. The kids and I are in a sort of a honeymoon period, and I know that soon I will get push-back from some of my more reluctant or tangled readers, but I'm hoping by that time I will know them well enough to support them and start where they're at and help them grow.
Like I told the parents at open house last night, I feel I have the best job in the world. I get to go to work every day and talk to great kids about reading and writing. What could be better?