They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
I always look forward to Monday mornings. That’s the day I treat myself to a splurge reading of a poet I haven’t read before. Back when I used to dread Mondays, a friend suggested I set aside a half hour early in the morning for something that would make me look forward to the day. For several years, poetry has been that mood-altering tonic. I’ve found it works especially well for me because I’m someone who can’t read poetry in the evening. Poetry excites me and sets my mind going in a million directions; if I read poems in bed I’ll stay awake long into the night as I revive memories, ponder ideas, and above all, get that urge to write myself: to make my own poems.
My special Monday mornings require some planning in advance — they don’t just happen on their own. I spend a little time Sunday evenings making my choices and marking the poems I’ll read. Sometimes I go online to find recommendations and email myself the URLs. But usually, over the week, I have come across a new-to-me poet and have borrowed a book from the library or a friend, or recently, heard an interview on the evening news with a current award winner. This part of the process is crucial, and helps build my anticipation as I set aside my reading choices for the following day. Once I’ve laid them out for my Monday morning reading, I go to bed with a smile, truly looking forward to the start of a new week.
What time of the week do you need something to turn around your mood and your expectations? Is it the start of a busy week that fills you with a subtle (or not-so-subtle) dread? What would you choose to do that would create the kind of joyful anticipation that poetry brings to me? Thirty minutes of quiet time with a journal, sketchpad, or musical instrument might become a much-anticipated treat. Perhaps midweek, after school, or like me, at sunrise. It’s a powerful exercise to think about when and what you need, and finding time to plan 30 minutes into your week.
And what about your students? When might they also appreciate the time to consciously look forward to something that would alter their moods? Making time to dance, color, write—and at times of the week that might otherwise be a hard transition–can be life-changing. We all deserve the rewards of anticipation and immersion in something we love—even if it’s only 30 minutes a week. Just a little of what we love can remind us that we have the power to bring joy into our lives. At a time when we used to least expect it.
This week we look at renewal in classroom communities after winter breaks. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
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Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris have a fresh take on goals for the new year:
Something bad was happening in Katie Doherty’s middle school classroom — it was time to rebuild the class community with a reality check and a renewed commitment to student rights and responsibilities:
Here is some fascinating brain research on how teachers can help students re-engage after holiday breaks:
If you want to see more energy in your students’ writing, you have to begin with topics that provoke urgency for them. Dana Murphy explains how:
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Bitsy Parks discovers the best way to relaunch literacy workshops in January after holiday break is to have her first graders reflect upon and celebrate what they learned in the fall with personal anchor charts:
Early January is a great time for relationship resets in classroom communities. Dana Murphy finds community building activities may be more helpful than just a review of classroom rules and norms:
Have you revisited your classroom design since September? Andrea Smith and her fourth graders get over the midwinter blahs by refreshing classroom seating together:
In an encore video, Katie Doherty tackles the challenging issue of helping a student catch up in book clubs and reading workshop when they have missed a lot of class time:
If you’ve had a busy fall, renew yourself by catching up over break with the Big Fresh issues you may have missed. The archives are available at this link:
That’s all for this week. We’re off for our annual two-week holiday break. We’ll be back with our regular weekly postings in early January. Happy Holidays!