I have a language arts classroom where siblings Read’n and Writ’n are in a constant battle for attention. Historically Read’n has been the favored child, in terms of time and focus. As much as I tell Writ’n he’s just as loved as his sister Read’n, he knows who I always put first, who always gets the shot gun seat. He knows. Actions speak louder than words. I have promised to give him more time with the kids but in the end, at best he gets half as much time, at worst he’s ignored or assigned as homework.
Lack of time, we all have it. So we prioritize. Which should come first? What’s more important? In the end these siblings are actually conjoined twins, inseparable. They are each other’s lifeblood. I’ve always known this but haven’t acted as if I believe it.
This year they are getting equal time, really, I’m not just saying it. I’m doing it by putting one upfront, letting one area have priority two days a week. Whatever has priority that day, starts the day, that one gets our energy and our focus. That’s the day for the other sibling to take the back seat and go along for the ride, being supportive along the way. While I’d like to give them equal time every day, I feel it would just short change them both with not enough time to do either one well. (If you are wondering about the fifth day, it is often shared with a cousin, Assess’n, sort of a play date.)
You might say, why not just spilt your time down the middle. I’ve considered that, but this is what I’ve come to believe: reading and writing require dedicated time spent. Each segment of workshop — directed lesson, student time to do, and social interaction with others about what was done — is crucial. To eliminate or minimize a part, severely limits its effectiveness. I believe that the time we spend is better spent in a concentrated orchestrated fashion. Where all the pieces build into and support each other. A lIttle bit is better than nothing, but a daily “fair spilt” would result in doing neither well. Reading and writing workshop need all of its parts in tact to be a working whole.
This is how it’s morphed. While I still have guilt, it has allowed writing to have a real role in our classroom, get’n a little love for once. Just look at the mess it’s making!
I would love to know your thoughts on this. Am I being fair? Am I doing the right thing by my students?