If life gives you lemons, don’t settle for simply making lemonade — make a glorious scene at a lemonade stand.
Every time I drive past a lemonade stand, I feel guilty. A few years ago, I stopped at a random lemonade stand that I passed while driving. I had a great chat with the kids running the stand while I enjoyed my lemonade. As I was driving away, I made a commitment to myself: I would never drive past a lemonade stand again without stopping. I decided it was important to support kids who did the work to create lemonade stands. I love lemonade stands and have many memories of having them as a child. I sold lemonade and also Kool-aid, cookies, and hand-painted rocks at a table at the end of my driveway. My neighbors were fabulous, and I always seemed to have enough customers to make for a fun day. I decided I wanted to be that kind of a neighbor to kids running lemonade stands.
Since that day, I have stopped at one lemonade stand in four years. I have driven past about 3,000 lemonade stands. I so want to be the kind of person who stops at lemonade stands, but I have not done a great job of following through with my commitment. Usually when I pass a lemonade stand, I am on a schedule and have to get somewhere. I almost never carry cash, and stopping at a lemonade stand without cash is tricky. Every lemonade stand reminds me of the commitment I made to myself, and I feel like a failure. What kind of person does not have five minutes to stop at lemonade stands run by kids?
I’ve been thinking about why I am not stopping at lemonade stands. It turns out that as much as I want to be a friendly neighbor who supports kids at lemonade stands, I have other goals that are more important to me. So instead of beating myself up for not stopping at every lemonade stand, I’ve decided to stop by lemonade stands when I can—when I have a few minutes, and when I have some cash. But when I can’t stop, that means I have some bigger goal to accomplish, and that is okay. As much as I want to be the kind of person who stops at lemonade stands, I want to be other things even more. I want to be the kind of mother who shows up to pick up her kids on time. I want to be the kind of colleague who is not late to a meeting.
I have learned that I love setting professional goals far more than I like accomplishing them. One year, I decided to email five parents a day with a positive comment or photo about their child’s learning. Another year I decided to update my classroom webpage every other day. Last year, I decided to pick up all of my piles every day at 4:00 before I left to go home. None of these goals lasted for long.
Recently I had the chance to hear Dave Stuart Jr. speak at a leadership event. He talked about the importance of “finding our Everest” — that one big goal that is your focus for the year. His talk reminded me that it is the big goals that count. The little ones are nice fantasies, but they aren’t the things that make our classroom what we want it to be. The goals that matter most to me—giving kids choice in their reading, supporting kids as they build identities as readers, empowering students—those are goals that matter and the ones I stick with. These things are always at the forefront in my thinking and planning. Part of the work of discovering the big goals that matter most is testing out the small goals, like stopping at every lemonade stand, to see if they are reasonable, realistic, or essential.
This week we begin a two-week series on student self-assessment and reflection, with a big chunk of the new entries on goal-setting. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Franki Sibberson has worked for over 30 years as a teacher at different grade levels and school librarian. Franki is the co-author with Karen Szymusiak of many books and videos on teaching reading in the intermediate grades. You can keep up with Franki on the popular blog she writes with Mary Lee Hahn, A Year of Reading.
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In Creating a Reflection Culture in Classrooms, Debbie Miller explains how the language we use with students conveys our appreciation for their thinking:
Katherine Sokolowski finds reflection works best when it’s built into routines all year long:
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Melanie Meehan shares a wealth of ideas for better goal-setting with students:
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan take a child step by step through the process of creating a meaningful writing goal:
Ruth Ayres finds there can be a difference between questions in writing conferences that inspire an enthusiastic response, and those that foster more reflection and independence:
That’s all for this week!