Strategy is about making choices and trade-offs. It’s about deliberately choosing to be different.
Before I had my third lovely, sweet, and calm baby, I had settled into a five- to six-day workout schedule, a mix of running and workout classes. Through pregnancy and maternity leave, I was able to maintain this with consistency. Being fit has been a strong piece of my identity for many years.
Then I went back to work.
Now, three months into the new normal, I’m still figuring it out. I’m not someone who will ever say that I don’t have time for exercise; after all, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. However, I am someone who currently has figured out how to make time only one or two days a week.
At first, I found myself working extra hard on those one or two precious days, intent on maximizing my effort and my time. However, as I’ve gradually slipped further out of shape, I’ve gotten more frustrated, felt more pain, and found my identity as a fit person to be irritatingly just out of reach.
Right as all of this was happening, I took a two-hour “foundations” class at a local yoga studio. We covered the basics. Things like, when we say stand hip-distance apart with our feet, what does that actually mean? (I was wrong about that.) When we plank, where should our shoulders be? (Also wrong about that.) When we do upward dog, what angle should our chin and neck take? (You can see the pattern.)
It occurred to me at that yoga class that I was approaching this tricky time in my workout life all wrong.
Beginning runners are advised to think about their goals in this order: Form. Distance. Speed. Going too far or too fast out of the gate is a surefire recipe for shin splints, or worse. Although I am not a novice exerciser who needs initial calibration, I am really in an optimal place for recalibration. Thinking about speed (running fast, doing pushups fast, jumping fast) only gets me shin splints. Instead of using this time to push speed, I’ve found that using it to slow down, zero in, and focus on form and distance have helped heal my body and get my mind right.
We’re at a time of year where we teachers might feel our bodies and our spirits are worn. You might feel like you’re at your breaking point.
My suggestion is this. Let’s return to form. Sometimes saying no to speed means we can return to form, to what we know works. Saying hello to students when they come in. Holding responsive, meaningful conferences. Focusing our minilessons. Making time to read. Making time to write.
It doesn’t mean you’ll never speed up again. When the classroom form feels good again, and things are humming along, you will know that it’s time to pick up the pace.
This week we look at using picture books for instruction at different grade levels. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Gretchen Taylor has worked as a middle school teacher for the Dublin (Ohio) City Schools, and a teacher-scholar in the National Writing Project. She currently works as a middle grades literacy coach in the district.
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We continue our April poetry series. This poem and reflection from Shirl McPhillips delights in wordplay and emergent greenery in the spring:
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Katherine Sokolowski explains how picture books can be a potent tool for teaching intermediate students research skills:
In this week’s video, Gigi McAllister meets briefly with a group of fourth graders who are all exploring theme in picture books:
Katie DiCesare uses conversations around picture books to build communication, community, and reading skills in her first-grade classroom. Late in the school year she reflects with students about why these conversations are so powerful:
In a bonus video, Bitsy Parks shows how even the simplest picture book can lead to powerful conferring. In this example, a first-grade English language learner is reading a picture book that uses only two words in the text:
In an encore video, Aimee Buckner leads a fourth-grade lesson on brainstorming topics in writer’s notebooks using the picture book Some Things Are Scary as a mentor text:
That’s all for this week!