Often in the busy-ness of December I have a Hallmark Channel movie on in the background of my home life. At first, my husband would tease me about them: how do you tell them apart, they are all the same actors, you can tell what’s going to happen in the first 10-15 minutes, why are you still watching? But then last night he said, I’m starting to get what you see in them.
Hallmark has a standard formula. They make all of these holiday movies in Canada during the summer like a bootcamp. If you watch enough of them, you can see standard rooms, houses, backdrops, and how they make it look like winter without too much snow. There’s always a central couple not together in the beginning, meet by some fate, have trouble, and end up together in the end. There’s never too much anger or kissing or even a REALLY bad person. They make around 15 new holiday movies for each season, Christmas and Valentines. The Christmas movies start playing in mid-November.
In December, we have developed a standard formula at school as well. The teachers and students I work with know when I will meet with them, when I’ll be in their room, and for the most part what I will do when I’m there. They can count on me. They know what to expect. I have a formula.
Before you start thinking that my formula is boring or not challenging, I go home tired every single night. I plan after school to make those routines look effortless. What is that saying, the devil is in the details.
So this time of year is good. It’s the time when we’ve worked out most of the details and can get into the elaboration of the story. We can say, hey, little dudes, I know you and now I’m going to put the gas petal down on this.
Today in a classroom, a writer told me an old story, I’m not good at writing. I can’t do this. Today I could say to him you told me that in the fall, but you’ve written some great stories since then, so dude, we know that’s not true. Get going, don’t let yourself off the hook.
I can say to a new teacher, hey, let’s try this little harder move. Take what you’re doing and up the ante to this. Say to my colleagues, hey, what next gang?
So maybe I have a Hallmark formula, I meet with folks at 7:30 am with my coffee. I drop in to confer with fourth graders during reading. I ‘hit and run’ phonics with third graders. I talk reading and spelling with some 2nd graders. I show up to get coats and mittens and reveal my ‘teacher school’ trick of folding snowpants to the 2nd graders in the room down the hall.
Along with that, I slip in a new book or a small idea. An encouragement or a challenge.
And it all turns out in the end.
Thanks to the Slice of Life Community and the amazing individuals behind Two Writing Teachers.