Trying to get back into the blogging routine at the start of the school year was a little tougher than I had anticipated. One of my favorite tasks as a literacy coach is to support the new teachers in our district. This year we have seven at the elementary level, and that is quite a lot by our usual standards. I’ve spent days in classrooms and evenings messaging them on Facebook or scouring the web for resources. It has been terrific and they have been amazing! Their energy, enthusiasm and passion for teaching is contagious. Even though I have been incredibly busy, I am energized.
Watching them prepare their classes and then step out of the role of student and into the role of teacher has been humbling. They are tired, but they push through. They get frustrated, but they persist. They find success and they are eager to share it. It reminds me just how hard and yet rewarding teaching is for all of us.
Some people think of new teachers as naive. I choose to think of them as ‘fresh’! They don’t have the baggage of preconceived notions about certain kids, their families or other staff members. They are looking for the best in all of us, and they continually see it. It doesn’t mean they are blind to student behaviors or deaf to parent comments. It means they perceive them through a lens that is not jaded or biased. They seek to understand, not to judge. Experience will eventually shape many of these perceptions, but I think this group of new teachers are providing us with some great experience as well.
SEEK AND YOU SHALL FIND
I have always believed that you will see whatever it is that you are looking for. Our beliefs shape our perception. Think about experiences you have had with some negative people (if you have been lucky enough to never meet any-use your imagination). Comments like, “This class is so lazy.” or “These kids just don’t get it.” are supported by examples of students who don’t try, who refuse to make attempts or who submit sloppy work. You would think that is all that exists in that classroom. What are the odds of that?
Think about experiences you have had with positive people. Comments like, “These kids really care about each other.” or “This is such a great group of kids.” are supported by examples of students who are kind to one another, polite, encouraging or well behaved. What are the odds that every moment in that classroom is blissful behavior?
Our reality is shaped by our perception.
That isn’t to say that all you have to do is chant, “This class is the best in the school!” and the students will miraculously transform into brilliant scholars and benevolent classmates. But if you look for opportunities to ‘catch them’ being kind or trying hard-you will see it. When you notice it, they will repeat it! Some days and with some classes, we need to look really hard. But I promise you-if you look, really look with an open mind and an open heart, you will see what you are looking for. Being around these new teachers lately has reminded me of that. I want to carry that with me as the energy and engagement ebbs and flows during the course of our school year. I wish that for every teacher I work with.
What will you look for tomorrow?
What’s On My Book Radar?
I can happily report that I met my Book a Day Challenge for the summer. It wasn’t as hard as I thought when I could read a few picture books a day to catch up! I read some amazing books this summer. Here are a few:
I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when this book arrived in the mail. I headed for the beach and soaked up the sun as I swam through the chapters. Jackie Woodson’s words were like candy to me, and I just couldn’t stop. The memoir of her childhood, told in verse is poignant and profound and perfect!
Another “beach read” was We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. At first I thought it would be a trifling tale of privileged “summer people” who feel sorry for themselves with their first world problems. Boy was I surprised! Sure it was a story about privilege and power, but just below that superficial surface is a story of human tragedy and forgiveness that will leave you thinking about this family long after you close up the book and leave the beach!
Time to lighten the mood with this fun story from Jenni Holm (Baby Mouse, Squish and Amelia May author). When a bossy boy shows up at her school, who looks a lot like her grandfather, Ellie gets some science and life lessons she never could have imagined. A well written, thoughtful and thought provoking story that makes me appreciate this author even more than I have for years. A quick read-you’ll love it!