The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.
Buried in the rubble of my many attempts to declutter my office and closets are at least six books on how to get and stay organized. Who knew clutter could be ironic? Yet I remain ever hopeful, which is why this spring I purchased and read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Even in the mundane world of books on clutter, this one is a phenomenon, with over two million copies sold. I now understood why. Every other book I’ve read on decluttering emphasizes going through your material goods ruthlessly, discarding anything you haven’t worn, read, or used recently. Kondo takes a simpler approach:
The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.
“Does this spark joy?” is a simple question to ask as you rest a sweater in your hands, but it’s not always easy to answer. You have to take a quiet moment and think hard about whether you have any affection or positive connection to what you’re holding onto. I’ll be honest and admit my life still isn’t fully decluttered after trying this method, but it has made me rethink how I value the stuff of my days. I was chatting with a friend on the phone about the book, and she exclaimed, “I’m so happy someone is finally saying it’s okay to hold onto something you haven’t worn in a year! I’m old enough to have saved a few things I loved a decade ago that I came across recently, and I am so glad I still have them.”
This time of year teachers and literacy leaders are going through schedules, ever on the lookout for the “clutter” of wasted time we can get rid of so we have time for more important things. We’ve trained ourselves to ask, “Is this activity useful? Is it efficient? Is it moving me toward a measurable goal?” What would happen if we looked at how we spend each chunk of time and asked, “Does this bring me joy?”
Obviously we can’t let go of every work-related task that doesn’t bring joy. If you teach second grade and you hate teaching math, it’s not an option for your students to have a gap year in math. And yet . . . maybe there is a colleague you enjoy or admire who does love teaching math. Is there a way to bring your students together more often, to find ways to collaborate with this colleague as a mentor around math topics so there’s at least some pleasure in the task for you? Because if you don’t have even a smidgen of affection for the work, your students won’t either.
So many teachers find themselves losing the spark that inspired them to teach in the first place, because the elements of instruction that bring them joy are being crowded out. Joy is equated with fluff. Those may be the saddest words I’ve ever written. Perhaps the first step in reclaiming your teaching passion is to ask yourself, “Does this bring me joy?” when looking at your plans. And then find ways, however small, to hold onto those plans that do.
This week we look at routines in literacy workshops. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
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Katie DiCesare describes Routines to Build Independence Early in the Year that she uses with her first graders:
Dana Murphy encourages teachers to look closely at opportunities for talk and collaboration in Sharpen Your Workshop Routines: Don’t Skip Share Time at the Two Writing Teachers blog:
Summer’s pleasures include reading and road trips. Here is a fun interactive map that details some of the most famous literary road trips. You may find one near your home:
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Ruth Ayres considers what’s essential in Back to Basics: Routines in Writing Workshops:
In this week’s video, Bitsy Parks explains the reading workshop routines in her primary classroom:
Things start to fall apart in a classroom when a beloved teacher is replaced with a long-term substitute. Deb Gaby shares how an analogy helps the class get back on track in Perfect Frosting and Workshop Routines:
This bonus video is a short silent time-lapse sequence showing how Leslie Lloyd’s third graders transition into literacy workshops quietly and efficiently each morning:
In an encore video, Andie Cunningham integrates counting in many languages into her kindergarten morning meeting to celebrate different home cultures:
That’s all for this week!
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