The plumber, the roofer and the electrician sell us a cure. They come to our house, fix the problem, and leave.
The consultant, the doctor (often) and the politician sell us the narrative. They don’t always change things, but they give us a story, a way to think about what’s happening. Often, that story helps us fix our problems on our own.
The best parents and teachers, of course, are in the story business.
Reading these words from one of my favorite bloggers clarified for me why the testing season vexes so many teachers. It’s not just the stress and break in routine, though those are maddening. It’s the fundamental difference between how many people in and out of schools see students – either as problems to be fixed or stories to be told.
Teachers are in the story business, which is why we look to strengths in children. It’s the thread we know can carry the narrative all the way through the years to a happy ending.
“If he can do this so well now, look at all the possibilities. . .”
This is her passion, just imagine if her drive continues what might unfold . . .”
Obstacles in the path are just unexpected twists in the story we are determined to tell, opportunities for grit and resilience to rise up before all ends well.
Nothing is ever black and white – there are stories in the numbers we get from tests, and there are problems to be solved in any journey. Yet to know someone well you have to know their story. The more distant anyone is from schools, the more impossible it is to learn the stories, and the more natural it is to default to metaphors about leaky roofs and falling test scores.
Metaphors shape the way we think about the world, but they aren’t reality — they are just containers for holding and making sense of it. When the disagreements are stark, usually it’s a policy maker with a plumber’s mentality butting heads with a story-loving teacher.
This week we look at closure as teachers clean rooms and say goodbye to students. Plus more as always — enjoy!
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Here are two articles from the archives to help you think about closure in the final days of school.
Andrea Smith reflects on Letting Go After Holding on Tight as she prepares to say goodbye to students:
Looking for activities to use during the final professional development meetings of the year? We offer Last Words and Next Steps: Closure Activities for Study Groups and Mentoring Programs:
This is a fun essay to share during graduation season, when everyone is thinking about careers and dream jobs. Mike Rowe from the television series Dirty Jobs writes about the importance of how we talk and think about jobs:
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Suzy Kaback remembers saying goodbye to her first group of students as a young teacher in A Case of the Perennial Annuals:
In this week’s video, Cathy Laker uses her own writing as a mentor text in a brief lesson for her second graders on endings:
Megan Ginther and Holly Mueller close out the year with their final literacy contracts. It’s time for students to take ownership of their learning, so they select the themes:
That’s all for this week!