Slice of Life: Slow to Notice

Tuesday is time for Slice of Life. Thank you, Two Writing Teachers blog for a place to live as writers. Read more slices here.


I don’t run outside much anymore.  I miss the landscape and the weather, but time on the road can wear you down, so I’ve come inside.  Today for some reason, I decided to go out.

The first steps, first block, second block were slow. Memories of years and miles of running on this very street did not match my current state. It felt all wrong.

After about a mile, it became more familiar. Either I’d picked up the pace, or my brain adjusted.

At the turn around point, I walked out to the edge of the park that overlooks the bay. Three surfers were sitting patiently waiting for a wave. I watched, taking in the Pacific breeze.

In years past, I wouldn’t have stopped or slowed. I would have been watching my pace, comparing it to the last run. I would have missed this.

This long Labor Day weekend let a lot of slow happen. With more time,  I was allowed the luxury of slow.

Tomorrow starts the fourth week with kids, and my fear of going too slow is building. I’ve kept it at bay. Longer than I usually do. I wanted a solid community and was determined not to rush.

Now for the business of assessment. I’m working through running records, one kid at a time. I hear them, take notes, and students adjust their reading goals afterward. It takes time. And during each conference, I learn, not just about this student, but about reading. It’s exciting; my notes hold next steps. But I worry, is my pace too slow?

This year, I’ve pushed kids to reach a little higher than I usually do at the beginning of the year, just to see what they can do. It’s taking time, and it’s pushing them to places where they struggle a bit.  Through conversation, they teach me so much. I try to tuck in a teach and nudge them to set a goal.  What they write down gives me feedback, and I clarify next steps.

This year, I’ve spent time digesting the new Teachers College Reading Units of Study and Jenn Serravallo’s Reading Strategy Book and my awareness and knowledge of how readers might approach text has grown.

This year, I see more. Perhaps it’s because I’m pushing kids to uncomfortable places.  Perhaps it’s because I know a little bit more. Perhaps it’s because I am going slower and noticing.

The pace feels uncomfortable at times. But I don’t to rush to match what was, to get through the list, or to get to the next lesson. This year, I want to pay attention and name what I see.

This year, I’m adjusting my pace.  I’m hoping by going thoughtfully and purposely; I’ll find more. Taking the time to stop and notice something I wouldn’t have seen before.


17 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Slow to Notice

  1. Love this! I feel it too – the desire to push the pace and the trying to hold it to what is…lean in a little longer and make room for deeper work. How fast is too fast? How can slowing down to make sure we get it right – engaging learners as we go. Love the run juxtaposed against the assessments and learning about your community of readers this year. Happy fourth week!

  2. What a wonderful, thoughtful Slice… slowing down in life and in your classroom. Too bad that slowing down isn’t respected enough.
    Have a wonderful school year. I LOVE reading you,

  3. Your pace sounds perfect! Noticing and naming is the best type of assessment. Sometimes you have to go slow to grow and be in a place of slight discomfort to make the biggest leaps! Enjoy this community of learners you are creating.
    Clare and Tammy

  4. “let a lot of slow happen” “The luxury of slow”
    There’s such wisdom in those phrases. It seems as if the universe is trying to tell me something with these blog posts this morning. Love your connections and your thinking…as always!!

  5. I love how you think. You reflect so readily on all that you do in the classroom. This reflective practice has grown your teaching. You are moving to a new level and that can be uncomfortable. I think you will soon see that slowing down is good and right. You’ll know when your students are ready to step it up a notch. You’ll know because you care.

  6. It’s hard to go slow in a world that demands speed & completion, but I think you’ve got it right. People don’t learn fast. We need the time to slow down, comprehend and absorb. I love your determination & knowledge, even if it comes with fear. That’s what being brave is, right?

  7. I so appreciate your phrase “the luxury of slow”. Observation needs slow. And to truly appreciate life we must observe ourselves and our place in it.
    P.S. – That is why I always loved Fred Rogers singing “I like to take my time”.

  8. There is a poem “A Lazy Thought” by Eve Merriam that ends with “It takes a lot of slow to grow.” She is writing about children, but it seems that it fits our learning as teachers too. Taking time to notice is a good goal. Love hearing about how you’re doing it, Julieanne.

  9. What a great example of mindful teaching. It’s not about racing through but about slowing down and truly paying attention. A wonderful post to read.

  10. This is a really thoughtful post, Julieanne, and I think you’ve expressed something that is common among teachers: a fear of going too slow. Even teachers (like you) who know in their heart it’s the right thing to do – even those teachers worry.

    I can’t wait to see how this pays off for you in the long run. I know it will.

  11. “Taking the time to stop and notice something I wouldn’t have seen before” is the hallmark of a master teacher, Julieanne! Your students are so lucky be learning and growing under your watchful, thoughtful eyes.

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