Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.
“You’re so lucky to have your summers off.”
That comment is almost as irritating to teachers as a gift of apple earrings. Most teachers I know are plenty busy in the summer working as tutors, leading training sessions, or going to conferences (usually on their own dime) to hone their craft and keep up their certifications.
And yet . . .we’re still profoundly grateful for summer. Though we aren’t fully off work, we have control over our time, which is no small thing. We usually have at least a few days that stretch long with light, with little scheduled. To feel that echo of childhood memories, where a summer day with nothing to do but play could linger like a year, feels like more and more of a gift the older you get.
A lazy summer day is a reminder why we’re human beings, and not human doings. There is such pressure to accomplish more in classrooms. The clock feels like a runaway train, with the rhythm of the wheels on the tracks clacking “what’s next what’s next what’s next” pulling us away from being truly present with students.
Here’s something I’ve been trying on busy days to slow down the “doing” and get back to being right here, right now in the moment. I read recently that the average American looks at a screen 200 times a day. Seems unbelievable, until I think of how many times I pick up my smartphone, or pull out my laptop to read, write, or respond to emails. Every time I look at a new screen during the day, I try to pause for a moment and take a deep belly breath. Better yet, I close my eyes for a few moments while I take the breath. It’s surprising how restorative this is – we don’t call it “catching our breath” for nothing. There’s a lot of research on the vicious cycle of shallow breathing during times of stress leading to more stress and cortisol production. An extra 100 deep breaths a day, or even just a dozen, can do wonders for restoring at least a whisper of the calm you feel on a hazy July afternoon.
This week we look at classroom library design. Plus more as always — enjoy!
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Andrea Smith shares what she learns by assisting a colleague in Helping Allison Redesign Her Classroom Nonfiction Library:
Ruth Ayres highlights the key elements of Effective Organization for workshop instruction:
Beth Holland at Edutopia gives examples of how schools and communities are reconceiving libraries as “learning commons” in this digital age:
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Katherine Sokolowski explains why it is important to sort and weed out books carefully before the new year in Curating a Classroom Library:
Melanie Swider looks at classroom library design as part of her new month-long classroom environment series:
Shirl McPhillips writes of the glories of summer walks for teachers in her latest poem and reflection, Shaking Off the Village:
In an encore video, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser (“The Sisters”) help a teacher number and arrange classroom library bins:
New PD2Go: In this quick reading conference, Katie DiCesare advises first grader Sebastian as he prepares to share his reading with the whole class:
This video and workshop guide fulfill Common Core State Standard ELA-Literacy.SL.1.1: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
That’s all for this week!
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