May 10, 2017
Recently there was a news story about a child and his stepfather who were lost in a nearby woods. When interviewed the child (around 8) said there weren’t any rattlesnakes or anything, but there were a lot of animals with feet.
Isn’t that just like all of us children and adults, we are looking for the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad and then right in front of us is something amazing and inspiring? In my conjecture, I suppose either the child was frightened and then realizing there wasn’t anything that was going to immediately kill him, began to enjoy his surroundings noticing footprints or the adult senses fear explained that there weren’t any rattlesnakes and did he notice those raccoon tracks.
So, in our classrooms who is doing the noticing? Are we bringing the horses to water and waiting for them to drink? Do we understand the gradual release? Are we keeping in our minds and in hearts… and in our words where we are trying to go? Are we keeping ourselves open to the possibilities? Are we always the ones who are driving the instruction forward or are some of those amazing possibilities coming from our students?
School of Fish
March 3, 2017
I know a young girl full of exuberance. She’s young for her grade, perhaps a little dreamy. On standardized tests, she might not look like she’s a successful student. She might stop in a reading assessment to tell you how this part of the story reminds her of this other book she read with her mom last week and … she especially likes stories that have giraffes in them, while the timer ticks on. She might draw a picture of a spider on the test of high frequency words. She might stop you in the middle of a timed fluency test to ask if you noticed her new shoes, tell you where she got them, and wonder if they would look good on you.
Today we had a little meeting with her teacher and others to talk about how we might help this student and here’s what her teacher taught us. “She’s great,” the teacher said. “She loves school and life.” “She’s happy and interested and interesting.” “It took me a few months to get to know her,” said her brilliant teacher, “but when I did, I didn’t worry anymore.”
“You see,” she said, “this little friends swims in our school of fish on the side, checking out all that passes by and commenting on it for all of the rest of the fish.” I would add that they in turn appreciate that and accept her for her contribution.
It was a good lesson for us today. Data is important, but there is data and there is data. This data, seen with the heart, will help this little fish succeed. Her caring teacher will nurture her this year and pass her on to another next year. Her parents who know her so well, will encourage her individuality. And the rest of us, we will remember that standards are wonderful, data is terrific, but each time we meet, it’s just about that little swimming fish and how to keep her safe, happy, and moving forward.