As I get older, the more I stay focused on the acceptance of myself and others, and choose compassion over judgment and curiosity over fear.
Tracee Ellis Ross
I keep wondering if I’m going to get tired of my smartwatch. I’m not sure I like the constant tracking of movement—counting steps, flights, and time spent standing. I feel like it’s nagging me to fix things . . . and I’m not even sure the things need to be fixed. Just because the screen lights up and gives me a step count needed for the remaining hour doesn’t mean I actually need it. Just because data is collected doesn’t mean it’s an indicator that I ought to fix something.
The sleep tracking, though—that’s a different story. I love the sleep tracking. It shows the rhythm of my night, and I accept it as interesting data, not as something I need to fix. There’s not much I can do to change the percentage of time I spend in the different stages of sleep. I don’t feel like the information is a judgment; it is what it is.
As we evaluate the rhythms of our classrooms, I wonder if we would do well to approach the results like the sleep tracking of a smartwatch. Rather than trying to change the natural rhythms of a classroom, could we use the information to understand the cycle of a day?
If students are unfocused and hungry at the beginning of the day, could we offer the option of snacks first thing rather than waiting until mid-morning? If there are always arguments after lunch recess, could we begin the afternoon with a read aloud rather than a minilesson? Rather than trying to fix kids to meet the schedule, are there slight adjustments we could make to the schedule to match the natural rhythms of the classroom?
This week we look at one way to influence those natural rhythms, through the norms we establish. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Lead Contributor, Choice Literacy
Ruth Ayres is the director of the Lead Learners Consortium in northern Indiana. She blogs at Ruth Ayres Writes and is the coauthor of Day by Day and many other books, all available through Stenhouse Publishers.
Bitsy Parks teaches the foundations of first-grade classroom life through minilessons early in the year.
Gretchen Taylor watches her coaching unravel with a teacher, and slowly comes to realize that the problem is a lack of shared expectations.
Beth Jarzabek explains how she introduces herself as a reader to her middle school students on the first day of school, as well as what norm in her reading program elicits the most surprise and happiness.
We’re launching two courses soon to help you get organized for the new school year. Gradual Release of the Classroom Library with Bitsy Parks will help classroom teachers design minilessons and strategies for introducing students to the classroom library over time. Getting Organized for Literacy Coaching with Ruth Ayres will help new and veteran coaches design thoughtful coaching programs. If you’re a Choice Literacy member, you’ll receive 20-40% discounts off the course fees.
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.
Class promises, rules, and norms—most teachers set them at the start of the year. But how can we make sure students take them to heart? Dana Murphy shares some tips from her fifth-grade classroom.
Jen Schwanke has advice for sustaining student attention, beyond the norm of just calling out a student’s name over and over and over again.
Mark Levine finds that good seating design in middle school isn’t just about where you place furniture—it’s about negotiating with students and establishing norms for working with others.
In an encore video, Heather Rader works with Linda Karamatic to help establish norms with second graders for finished writing.
Lead Literacy now has a new home as the Leaders Lounge at Choice Literacy. We’ll be posting the new content updates here in the Leaders Lounge section of the Big Fresh newsletter.
David Pittman is asked about the needs of primary teachers in a leadership team meeting. He suddenly realizes he has spent more time with some teachers than others. This experience sets him on a quest to be more equitable with his coaching time.
In this brief video, Cathy Mere talks with literacy coach Kelly Hoenie about norms for collaborating with reading specialists.
Roger Schwarz shares detailed, practical advice on how to set ground rules for meetings.
Some rules are nothing but old habits that people are afraid to change.