Yesterday I wrote a post over on the Illinois Writing Project blog about the power of conversation in learning. In it I discussed how I need to remember to give kids time to talk in order to enhance their learning in my class.
I continued to think about time today as I moved through my schedule. I've been making a concerted effort to give my students more time to read and write each week during our daily 80 minute language arts period. I want them to feel like they can take their time on assignments, not feel rushed to get through something so that they don't have homework at home. I've done enough reading of experts in literacy like Richard Allington to know that time to read (and write) in school is essential for growth, and most kids don't get nearly enough time to read over the course of the school day.
I also know I have a curriculum I am responsible for teaching.
It is easy to get caught up in the mad rush of checking individual skills off of that scope and sequence, to be able to say to the eighth grade teachers, "Yes, I taught that." The problem with cramming too much into each day is that, yes, I might be able to say, "I taught that," but I can't say with certainty, "The kids learned that." Wouldn't it be better to linger a bit in the most necessary areas so that I can be certain the kids truly learned what I'm trying to teach them? Can't less be more? Why can't I give myself permission to do this?
It's a matter of mindset. It's a matter of prioritizing. It's a matter of trusting myself as a professional to know my kids and their needs and to trust my ability to help them get where they need to be.