There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.
It’s late spring, the time of year for teachers when routines are set. Our classroom dynamics are humming along smoothly, our students are progressing well, and parents are feeling comfortable with us. It’s all good.
But us? The teachers and literacy leaders? We are tired.
Because even though this time of year is a time when everything should be settled, there’s still a lot going on. I am certainly feeling it as I slog through required state assessments, oversee the crescendo of writing and reading projects, and deal with student behaviors that started small but have now built into real problems. I’m managing all the stuff happening right now while simultaneously planning for next year. Which is why I am tired. We are all tired.
Inspiration is hard to find. Our typical ways—professional reading, collegial sharing, observing other teachers— have waned a bit. We don’t have the energy to keep up on the reading, thinking, and talking that inspires us and keeps us sharp. Which is why we have begun to build a stack of articles—physical or virtual—that we’ll get to later. We push big projects to the back burner. We collapse on the couch at the end of long days, putting ourselves to sleep watching mindless television. We do not dig into our school bags and enthusiastically read student writing, seeking the next best insightful comment they’ve written.
This is the time of year we halfheartedly consider a career change.
And that’s okay.
It’s okay when a few weeks pass without a stop to visit our favorite blogs. It’s okay that we don’t merrily highlight our way through a new book on literacy instruction this month, or eagerly try a new instructional strategy, or launch a brand-new unit of study with our students. It’s okay to relax a little this time of year and trust that the routines we’ve built will carry us through. We can still push our students with the gentle prodding we know will work, given how well we know each one of them. We can lean on our colleagues as we always have and enjoy the trusting relationships we’ve built with our students’ parents.
The professional reading will still be there this summer, when our energy is restored. Let’s be gentle with ourselves now.
This week we look at book sampling with teens and tweens. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
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Katie Doherty helps her middle school students make choices for independent reading in Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover:
Franki Sibberson shares ways to initiate conversations about books naturally in classrooms. The feature includes a question set for launching discussions about books with individual students:
Here are Donalyn Miller’s habits of wild readers from her acclaimed book:
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Carly Ullmer describes the activity she’s developed for getting her middle school readers out of reading ruts by sampling different authors and genres:
Gigi McAllister finds taking time to have students browse texts before forming book clubs makes all the difference in the quality of the discussions:
In this week’s video, Christy Rush-Levine explains her formula for successful book talks in middle school that grab students’ attention. We’ve also included a sample book talk. This is the first video in a summer series on engaging book talks:
In an encore video, Franki Sibberson teaches her students about book choice in her grades 3-4 classroom:
That’s all for this week!