The Space Between March 1, 2017
I was working on coaching points for the next units of study in reading and writing for our elementary building when I began thinking about… the space between. Sometimes it’s a rush moving from one unit to another, there really isn’t any breathing space for the teachers or… the students.
I feel rushed during the day, during the week, during a month, during the year. How do our students feel? I thought about this in earnest several weeks ago during a professional development day with our primary teachers. Our trainer for the year and this day, Clare Landrigan said we need to create balance between destinations. I began thinking about this balance and the concept of lingering began to take shape in my thinking.
Oh, I’m a lingerer. I am a lingerer from way back. Ask my husband. I can spend an hour looking at yarn color, recipe books, dishes, a sunset, the list goes on. So if I find peace, comfort, and inspiration from lingering, why don’t I encourage it in others?
So I began in small ways to encourage the linger through my collaboration meetings. I would say to a teacher partner, “we could spend another day on this and… have the students present their thinking to each other, write long about what we talked about today, linger over one more mentor text. I thought they would offer excuses not to, telling me that we were “moving forward”, “ground to cover”, and so on. They really didn’t. They exhaled… and they lingered with their students.
I had a lingering moment today with a fourth grade class. We had worked through a novel prior to February vacation and the last day, the teacher had asked the students to write a ‘stickie’ about the theme and put in our their exit ticket board. As the two of us read through the stickie notes, she said, “They think it’s about getting a puppy. That’s what happen in the last chapter.” We decided to sleep on it, for real. We spend the next week on break. Melissa and I thinking sporadically on theme and the students enjoy the nice weather.
Melissa saw a great idea about students writing an additional chapter for the book based on their thinking about the theme, but decided that the class needed a little more work prior to diving in. I saw the short animation Oscar winner, Piper, and could clearly see the theme in the movie. So I suggested that we try to talk through theme, again and again moments, and life lessons using this short film with no dialogue. When the students didn’t immediately jump to the lesson, we asked, what was the problem? We went back and rewatched. You get the idea. Rewatching is like rereading.
So here we are a few days later with several picture books under our belts along with some great discussions, some collaborative learning, and some breathing room. Tomorrow we might actually go back to the novel… There’s always next week.