Monday, September 1, 2014

Keeping Up: My "I CAN" Statements

Ah, it's that time of year again.  School has been in full swing for three weeks, Mother Nature decided to finally have summer, my classroom is a stifling box of humidity and heat, I'm learning all about my new kids, I'm wrapping my brain around all of the forms that need to be filled out for the new teacher evaluation system, I'm prepping for a presentation I'm giving for the Ohio Writing Project about peer and self assessment in writing, I'm gathering books for our first literacy contract based around empathy, and I'm responding individually to each student in the form of a response letter to get to know them better.

I go through this maniacal month at the start of every school year.  It's hot, there's a TON of work to be done to set the stage for the rest of the year, and there is ever-mounting pressure on evaluations and assessment results.  We MAP tested the first full week of school, after all.  I know I'm not alone.  Chances are, if you're reading this, you're probably in the education arena too, and know exactly what I'm talking about.

Here's how I get through it.  BREATHE.  Then, I think about what I CAN do to have a successful school year:

I CAN get to know my students by reading the letters they wrote to me and responding, by having them fill out conversation calendars about what they like to read and then recommending some books to them, by having them do copious amounts of writing at the beginning of the year so they have a rich variety from which to draw ideas throughout the year.

I CAN fill out the teacher evaluation forms and know that I am good at what I do.  I've taught long enough to know what works for kids and what doesn't and I'm always learning something new about my practice because I'm reflective of my work.  Just having confidence can go a long way in thinking about how someone will evaluate your performance in the 30 minutes they have to make a conclusion on your effectiveness.

I CAN look forward to presenting and sharing knowledge with other teachers of reading and writing on a Saturday in September.  I'm so excited to hear their ideas and bring back new things to try in my classroom.  Educators should constantly learn from each other.  We have so much to offer!

I CAN make lots of trips to the amazing public library and pick up books I've requested so my students have a wide variety of choices for their first literacy contract.  This is the part of teaching I love.  The contracts help my put all of my literacy standards under one umbrella.  September is empathy--an important concept as we build community in our classroom and think about connecting a little more with the outside world.  I can't wait to get my kids in book groups and thinking critically about how to be more empathetic with each other and the community.

I CAN make a difference in the lives of my students and they make a difference in mine.  It's a whirlwind month, but so worth it.  I learn so much about my kids and my teaching practices in the first month of school.  It helps me keep up with everything rest of the year.

I hope your school year is off to a great start and that you're able to keep up by thinking about all of the things you CAN do.  Have a great school year!