Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could…tomorrow is a new day.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
[Now you can listen to the Big Fresh as a podcast!]
When my to-do list moved onto a second page and, when I looked at my desk, I was seeing more yellow sticky notes than actual desktop, I knew that I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. (Perhaps, more accurately, I was already overwhelmed.) So, when I came across a metaphor for prioritizing responsibilities, it felt like it was speaking directly to me.
The basic gist is to think about all the responsibilities in my life as plastic or glass balls. When I toss these balls up in the air, I may be able to keep them all going for a short time, but it isn’t sustainable. After a time, I will inevitably drop some of the balls. The question is, which balls are plastic and which are glass?
The former are the balls I can let fall, knowing that I can pick them up again when I’m ready—maybe with a little help. The latter are the ones that need to be handled with greater care and attention: If they fall, there’s a good possibility that they will be irreparably damaged.
I’ve been thinking about the plastic balls and glass balls in my life. And, more specifically, the plastic balls and glass balls that I juggle in my life as an educator.
Even in a perfect year juggling everything can be challenging, but in years with pandemics and elections, it’s impossible to keep all of the balls up in the air. Which ones can I let fall for now?
Here are a few of my plastic balls.
Grading assignments right away. I don’t need to stay up late to grade a paper or, for that matter, grade everything I give. I’m still working on letting this ball drop, but I know that even when there isn’t a grade, learning is still happening.
Bulletin boards. This one is definitely plastic. Bulletin boards don’t need to be perfect, and they should be representative of the people in my room, not a testament to my own creativity.
Here are some of my glass balls.
Building community. This needs my care and attention right from the start. There is no learning happening if my kids don’t feel accepted and valued.
My own mental and physical health. It’s easy to let this one fall, but don’t do it! We are no use to anyone—our students, our families, or ourselves—if we’re not caring for our own health. I try my best to run or hike every day to take care of both of these.
Making this quick list helped me get better at living out Ralph Emerson’s words, which I see above my classroom door as I leave each day:
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could…tomorrow is a new day.”
This week we look at digital reading. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Tara Barnett and her colleague Kate Mills are longtime contributors to Choice Literacy. They met while co-teaching a fourth-grade class, and experienced the powerful effects of professional collaboration on both themselves and the students in the classroom. Tara is now a middle school literacy teacher, and Kate is a K-5 literacy coach. Though they’re no longer in the classroom together, they still depend on each other for professional reflection and growth, and meet up for weekly runs. You can find them on Twitter, @taraandkate.
Shari Frost finds that shared reading routines are easier to implement now because of digital books.
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan share one of their favorite coaching tools: digital books.
Pernille Ripp generously outlines the way she implemented virtual book clubs in middle school.
Big News! Soon you will find new instant-access courses at Choice Literacy. We are excited to share articles, videos, and brand new keynote presentations all delivered as a virtual professional learning experience. All courses will be free for Literacy Leader members, and select courses will be free for Classic Classroom members. Courses are available to purchase for everyone else.
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member, click here to explore membership options.
Melissa Quimby shares online routines to strengthen the class reading community.
Mandy Robek reflects on her identity as a digital and print reader and offers strategies to support students reading digital texts.
In this week’s video Christy Rush-Levine confers with Adriana over her response to Pretty Little Liars, considering differences between the television show and the book.
In an encore video, Katie Baydo-Reed works with Mike, an eighth grader who is using an ebook reader for the first time.
In this Coaching Minute, Cathy Mere talks with Andrea, a literacy coach and reading specialist, about the importance of common language during debrief sessions when talking about reading.
New PD2Go: As we encounter more digital texts, we must consider the reading strategies needed to understand them. In this session, participants will reflect on their own reading lives and identities as digital readers and learn practical ways to support students as they read digital texts.
Have you accessed our PD2Go resources? If you plan professional learning, then PD2Go is just the jump start you need to make planning for a session a breeze. We do the legwork of connecting timely content and organizing the agenda, as well as creating a slide deck for you to quickly pull together everything you need to lead a professional learning session. You will also find a template to help deliver PD2Go remotely.
Devices are not dangerous to literature. People are dangerous to literature. People, for example, who do not read.
That’s all for this week!