This week I got interim scores from a district assessment. The unstated but very real message in this was: where do you rank and what can you do to pull up those scores. That evening I looked at questions on the test. I thought about them. I spent time and energy in that direction. And then I stopped. And asked, what is best for my students right now? And, how do I want them to leave my classroom in June?
That same evening, I picked up Katherine Bomer’s essay in The Teacher You Want to Be titled, “With and Air of Expectancy.” In it, she compares the word expectant, as in an expectant mother, to expectations, as in what students are to meet in the form of standards.
The word expectant connotes all of the wonderful possible that can be; it celebrates the impending joy. Expectant has an I-can’t-wait-till-you-get-there feeling, and it embraces the I-know-you-will-get-there belief.
Bomer reminded me of what I value, of why I spend so many of my waking moments caught up in my profession, of what I need to do tomorrow and every day after that.
I believe that learning is rooted in engagement and that engagement can only flourish in an environment that is joyful and responsive to the learner’s interest.
Now for the hard part. Where does that value exist in my daily practice?
Today, I’m looking back on the week to celebrate the places where my values showed up. The moments where I practice what I preach.
First: Daily commitment to 15 minutes of choice reading, writing, blogging, commenting, or wondering on Wonderopolis
Second: Daily blogging requirement none; daily average of 20 posts and 50 comments
Third: Twice daily book club talks before and after reading
Fourth: Daily commitment to Read Aloud with the focus on growing our community’s thinking and building the joy of reading
Fifth: Student choice of research topics, books, and partnerships
I believe these moments, these structures put learner interests alongside literacy practice. Each brings a bit of joy, a bit of engagement, and a bit of silly into the classroom. Each puts me on the sidelines, coaching in towards literacy expectations, on their terms. Each has me meeting them where they are. Each provides an opportunity to learn through reading and writing.
At the end of the day, the end of the year, students exceed, meet and approximate the expectations. Bit by bit, each student edges forward.
The worry I have is not the percentage that will meet the expectation this year. The worry I have is the learner who looks at coming up short as a reason to think they can’t or they won’t. The worry I have is that it’s not about this year. It’s about all that is to come.
Next week, I’ll sit down with families to look at student progress. If a student is less than, it could quite naturally slip into feelings of panic, judgment, failure.
These conferences will be an exercise in expectancy: of what is possible and how we can build towards that goal. It will be a reminder that learning is a constant state; that the future is full of possibility, that we are expectant. We know you will get there and beyond.
Thank you, Ruth, for your Celebration link up. Read more celebrations and post your own here.