Slice of Life: Things I didn’t expect

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.

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7 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Things I didn’t expect

  1. I love this reflection of how your teaching is changing and growing. Unexpected moments for the Joy of reading are so special. I don’t get that and wish I did.

  2. Way to look on the bright side! Those have always been my favorite moments, when kids find time to read or write…all on their own. I read a great post once about sneaky reading. The author wrote about sneaking books under the cover with a flashlight. She encouraged her students to sneak in moments of reading- in many of the ways your students are doing that naturally.

  3. Transition may be challenging. Your approach to look for the positive allows to ease into the new situation. Finding the pockets of time for reading is valuable.

  4. It’s a special experience to be able to connect with one bunch of kids all day. I love the way you’ve chosen to see this positive aspect of your change in grade levels, Julieanne.

  5. Happy to hear your reflection, Julieanne, & the way you’re finding good things about it. I had my students for everything except math & special classes taught on Tues./Thurs. mornings, my planning time. It is special to get to know them that well, as you are beginning to do. Interesting change!

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