Slice of Life: Sprouts and Dreams

Sunday, I stopped by my classroom to drop off a few things; put away some books.  Before I left, I checked on the seeds we planted on Wednesday. They sat, jars filled with dark, damp soil. I held each up and looked through the glass. The seeds were unchanged; suspended in the dirt. I worried about the upcoming lesson plan that assumed growth. My students planted each seed believing, that they held life. Sunday afternoon I saw little evidence of it.

The first week of school holds the excitement of newly planted seeds. Hopes and dreams of how each child will flourish. With the just right soil and with proper care, each seed will burst forth, and our garden will be filled, heads reaching toward the sun.

But want if it doesn’t go as planned?

This weekend, I looked at my students’ beginnings. I read bits of writing and math thinking. I tried to picture each student and list three things I knew about each one. I thought back to their choice of books, where they sat in the classroom, who they chose to sit next to, how they left for recess, what they shared with me. I remembered how they read. Some head down, book firmly grasped. Others were squirmy in their seats. Many on the carpet. Some perched in corners. This weekend I just took it all in and made some lists.

The beginning of the year holds hope as well as the possibility of judgment. Of putting students into one box or category. This weekend, this week, and next week I will make my lists. I’ll be collecting things I know about each child. Trying to piece together who they are, what they need.

Monday morning there were squeals in the corner. “Look! They’re growing!” Students clustered around the jars of planted seeds. The pots that held little hope of a plant the day before had burst forth.

Today, X, Y, and Z revealed tiny bits of themselves. X’s favorite sport is soccer, even though he’s finishing a summer baseball league. Y knows a lot about what she reads, more than one would assume by watching her. Z has a tough time making mistakes.

This year, every day is a day to look to find another sprout, a searching root, reaching for more.

Celebrate: A waiting classroom

A classroom needs to know how to wait.  Undisturbed by words, colors, or pictures.

These bare cupboards hold notebooks and boxes of books.  Expectant clips hang waiting for writers’ words. cupboards writing area.JPG

Open territory. Waits to be claimed.

Room Open space.JPG

Books provide the only hints of the journey ahead.

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Next Tuesday the meeting area will fill and create chemistry never seen before.

Until then, the classroom waits.

But. I can’t help but want to share a few words.  A frame for what could be.

Notice. Wonder. Collect. Share. Listen. Rethink. Repeat.

The question is often more important than the answer.

What kind of world can we make?

Know your thoughts lead to doing things that matter.

Histories, hopes, passions, and peculiarities that make each of us human will create this classroom. This week I celebrate the impossible and inevitable waiting to become.

Thanks to all who celebrate the week.

Slice of Life: How to squeeze in more…

My cat lounges on the porch bench, between two pillows. The picture of relaxation. Unaware of his impending vet appointment, just an hour away. He is present.  Occupying one of his many cat spots completely.

The window separates us.

I look on marveling at his deep sense of peace. The only sounds are chirping birds and subtle whooshes of wind that move tree branches. Nothing must be done.  As summer creeps into August, darkness comes earlier each day. Today the light will hold for three chapters. I pause to cherish the moment and calculate how much more time remains in the day and strategize how to squeeze in more.

In a quiet house with my cat lounging outside, I read.


Recovering My Science Self

Besides a few Kindergarten moments, the first four years of elementary school were a perfect fit. From hopscotch to math, I was a capable and participating member of society.
In fourth grade, two things changed everything.

One. Double Dutch was the game of choice for 4th graders. The slap-slap of the rope, the running in and out, the spectating nature of the sport was scary.  By the time I had mastered running in and out most of my peers had developed combinations of turns, jumps, and hand slaps.  Because of this, my playground friendships changed that year as did my place in the social strata.

Two. The Science Fair Project to be done at home and presented in class. This was my introduction to science in school. I read the directions, checked a book out on projects, and attempted the least intimidating one with plants.  Much like Double Dutch, my effort resulted in a less than performance and a diminishing of my good student status.

My science fair grade school experience came to mind today in a PD provided through UCLA. In the introduction they shared this statistic:

Results from tests conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show that the gaps between girls and boys in science and math grow larger over time, with the largest shift in girls’ versus boys’ scores occurring between the ages of 9 and 10 years old.

According to this study and the following Version ad, the situation things hasn’t gotten much bette

Today I realized that the kid who planted a garden, built sandcastles, and burned leaves with a magnifying glass was doing science. Distinct moments that took place in vacant lots, at the beach, and in the backyard was the work of a scientist. Me. A science self that was unrecognized in school,  A place that taught curriculum but did it in a way that disregarded what I wondered about and acted on.

Today, tomorrow, and the next day I have the opportunity to learn with colleagues and reconstruct my science self. I am thankful for the gift of teaching: learning to develop young people’s identities and in the process reclaim my own.