No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
Years ago, at the end of the school day, I was tidying up my classroom and getting set up for the next day. A new teacher I was mentoring appeared in my doorway. She was clearly distressed. The lines on her forehead were deep creases, and she held her lesson plan book open in front of her.
I stopped what I was doing and looked up. “How can I help?”
“I need to know how you do it,” she said.
“Do what?” I inquired.
She reached out to show me the two-page spread in her plan book. Every inch of the page was covered in neatly printed, tiny inked letters. I looked down at the page then up at her, struggling to make sense of it.
She rushed into explanation: “Students need read-aloud and independent reading time and a shared reading and booktalks and vocabulary instruction and a writing minilesson and time to write independently and conferences and grammar instruction every day, but I can’t fit it all in. I keep running out of time for writing. Every day I think we will get to writing, but when I look up at the clock, the bell is about to ring and my seventh graders are about to head to their next classes. It is impossible! What am I doing wrong? How do you fit it all in?”
I knew what I was about to say was not going to be the answer she was seeking, but it was the truth. I gently smiled and said simply, “I don’t.”
Then I added, “You are right, it is impossible to apply every best practice we know. Sometimes, we have to let go of good things in favor of doing things well. I have learned it is better to do a few things effectively than it is to do all things poorly. It is about prioritizing. Some things you might let go of entirely. Other things you may wish to rotate, so you make sure you have time for writing.”
She laughed through a huge breath of relief. I watched her shoulders relax away from her neck. “You mean I am not a complete failure? I have been so afraid to admit I haven’t been doing all of this,” she said, gesturing again at the overloaded plan book.
“You are doing enough,” I assured her.
Although this conversation happened many years ago, I still carry it with me. You are doing enough. These are words my teacher heart sometimes need to hear. In case you need these words sometimes, too, I will leave them here for you:
You are doing enough.
This week we look at stress-free ways to close out the school year. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
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Franki Sibberson designs a lesson cycle to prepare students for summer reading:
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan explain why it is important to share data with parents while school is still in session in order to avoid the summer slide:
From the Bespoke Classroom blog, here are some pop songs and questions to prompt reflection at the end of the year with middle or high school students:
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Tara Barnett and Kate Mills close out the year in their eighth-grade classroom with a compliments activity:
Bitsy Parks reflects upon her own not-so-successful experiences as a parent in getting her four children to read during the summer months. She uses these parenting lessons to help students take the initiative for summer reading by writing down commitments and goals in her first-grade classroom:
In an encore video, Katherine Sokolowski confers with her son Liam and his friend Caden late in the school year, helping them learn how to make peer book recommendations:
That’s all for this week!