January 1, 2019
My one little word from 2018 was notice. I take this last look at what I noticed in 2018 and reflect on what I’ve taken away.
The biggest thing I’ve noticed in this last 365 days is the power of the struggle. I read once that the broken places are where the light gets in and also that the person doing the work is the one doing the learning. But honestly, when you get down to it, it’s always about giving power to individuals, allowing students, teachers, co-workers, and ourselves the room, the tools, and the time to figure it out. It’s a fine line the struggle, but so often it results in break-through learning, self-reflection, and growth. Letting others see their own strengths is where positive mindset really comes from. This idea is the strongest thing I took to my bones this past year. I hope it’s the strongest coaching I did as well.
One of the reasons that this struggle resonated so fiercely with me is the commitment I made to read the Calkins Units of Study from cover to cover. The cover to cover approach strengthens the global view of the units and allows for flexibility to match student needs and experiences. I haven’t made it through all of them yet, it’s my commitment for this school year. Seeing the units vertically facilitates closing the gaps, strengthening outcomes, and envisioning the purpose. Each one I read gives me a deeper understanding of the verticality of literacy skill development, the connections between the learning progressions, the reading and writing processes, and the logic of helping students see what is essential in reading and writing.
Some simpler things resonated this year when I took the time to notice. Tools can be simple and flexible. I can travel with some stickies, a composition book, my phone, and a few go-to books. Along with tools, visuals can explain a lot! I used so many drawing this year to show connections, steps, big ideas broken down, and planning. Traveling lighter seems to facilitate flexibility in thinking on my part.
In human interactions, I noticed that partnering strengthens us. When we reach out, listen, give great wait time, and talk regularly, our work is stronger and more consistent. Nothing takes the place of scheduled talk time or taking unscheduled time to talk. While visuals and tools can be electronic, I have found more than ever that emails are limited and limiting. I’m still prone to using picture books, drawings, read-alouds and cookies to smooth, explain, and develop ideas.
The final reflections that I have for 2018 right now are that giving yourself some quiet time to think over problems, situations, and plans is essential. Nothing replaces time in working things out. I’ve written many a blog when I first wake up in the morning or sitting in the quiet literacy center before or after school.
Here’s to the partners that helped me learn those lessons this year. Some were in books like Debbie Miller, Jennifer Serravallo, Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan, Ralph Fletcher. Their books published this year were eye-opening and practice changing. Here’s to the blog writing practitioners that encouraged me through difficulties in writing and practicing, my instagram troop, twitter pals, and facebook groups that shared so much of what works for them. Here’s to my morning partners, each day of the week I learn from you and with you. Here’s to my day partners mostly under 10 who make me a better learner, explainer, and experimenter. In 2019, I’ll be reflecting on what you teach me.