If you want to learn to swim jump into the water. On dry land no frame of mind is ever going to help you.
One of my favorite things about going back home in the summer is swimming in the outdoor pool of my childhood. I swim laps in the early morning when the pool is as empty and blue as the sky above it, and the water is cold enough to take my breath away.
The water is so cold that there are days I wish for the ghosts of my high school lifeguarding pals to come and push me in — I almost can’t force myself take the plunge.
The change from being a traditional math teacher to a math workshop teacher was like standing at the edge of a pool filled with very cold water. I knew how to swim so I wasn’t in danger of drowning, and I even knew (intellectually, at least) that I would probably enjoy it once I got started. But I just couldn’t make myself jump.
Luckily, I had an administrator who pushed my whole grade level into the math workshop water. And we swam. There was a lot of floundering and gasping at first, and our stamina reminded me of the first swim team practice of the summer, when we had to rest after every 25 yard sprint.
But we swam.
The administrator who gave the push did not walk away from the water and leave us to “sink or swim.” He regularly threw lifelines of encouragement, professional development opportunities, release time, and in the second year, a math coach to help us continue to learn and grow.
And this past spring, after two years of trial and error, tweaking and shifting and failing and learning, I suddenly got my rhythm. If I had been swimming, it would have been the moment when I understood exactly how to coordinate my kicks with my strokes and my breathing.
It’s important for teachers to know that sometimes, like it or not, they need to be pushed out of their comfort zones. It’s equally important for administrators to know that sometimes they must be the ones to give the push.
This week we look at bulletin boards and wall displays early in the year. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Mary Lee Hahn
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Mary Lee Hahn has been teaching for more than 20 years. She is the author of Reconsidering Read-Aloud (Stenhouse Publishers). Mary Lee and her colleague in the Dublin City Schools, Franki Sibberson, blog about their reading lives at A Year of Reading.
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Andrea Smith shares some of her favorite Classroom Displays for Nonfiction Learning:
Franki Sibberson has suggestions for Walls, Displays and Invitations Early in the School Year:
Do less with more is the advice from the Chart Chums (Kristi Mraz and Marjorie Martinelli) for keeping your displays clean and uncluttered:
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Shari Frost cautions against overly stylized text in displays in Beyond Cute: Print-Rich with Purpose:
Melanie Swider shares her favorite Bulletin Boards, another installment in her classroom design series:
What makes a teacher memorable? Recognizing a child’s passions from the very first day of school. Jennifer Schwanke recounts how her second-grade teacher did just that in Doodlebug:
In this week’s video, Karen Terlecky is Conferring with Sam about adding dialogue to his writing:
In an encore video, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser (“The Sisters“) help a teacher who is Preparing Walls for Displays:
That’s all for this week!