For most of my teaching life, I have taught two classes of language arts. And I’ve loved it. It gave me a chance to focus on something I’m passionate about and the time to become better at teaching something complex.
When our school made the decision to have upper-grade teachers teach all subjects, I had mixed emotions.
There were good things about being an expert in a subject matter, and it was a joy to know an entire grade level of children. These were things I knew I would miss. But there were things I didn’t expect.
After a reading or writing lesson I think, next time I’ll… but the next time I teach it, won’t be in forty minutes, it will be next year. This is a serious shift in my teaching brain. I miss not having immediate do-overs. I miss the opportunity to tweak the lessons. Slightly. Now, I must write my thinking in a way that will translate to next year’s teaching. This is a change. Perhaps for the better. I’ll know next year when the do-over happens.
Reading and writing workshop is the time to learn the lesson. To do the work. While this practice is one I believe in and continually study, I have wrestled with the part of it that makes reading and writing work. Something we push students to try on. To do. This is necessary. But. The thing is, I know the only way anyone will read and write enough to become good at it is when it is done a lot. And that means doing it by choice and for enjoyment. If all we do in class is the work of reading, when do kiddos get a chance to practice loving it enough to want to do it outside of the classroom?
When I only taught reading and writing, I had trouble finding time to practice loving books. I’d squeeze in moments here and there. But it wasn’t enough. Instructional time was limited and precious. It still is. But, now I that I have students all day, and with no lost transition time between classes, I’ve found the time in ways I didn’t expect.
I found it as we walk back from the library. Each kiddo, nose in a book, just missing trees, walking up steps, into the classroom, reading. And I found scheduled, in-the-plan-book, listed-on-the-white-board time. Time later in the day, outside the workshop, nose-in-book, giggling-in-the-corner reading. That was something I didn’t expect.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for Slice of Life Tuesdays. Read more slices here.