Thursday, November 3, 2016

Take a Break From the Wheel!

The first quarter of the school year ends this week.  It's hard to believe!  The past ten weeks have flown by! Yet, here we are looking at end of quarter assessments, prepping for progress reports, parent conferences and setting new goals for our students.  In the the crazy, busy life of teachers I think it's critically important to take the time for reflection and really listen to our inner selves at this juncture.  Yes, there is tons of work to be done, to prep and plan for, but if we don't take the time to slow down a bit, give ourselves permission to think and reflect then we're just hamsters in a wheel, spinning, spinning, spinning!

The end of the first quarter can mark a sense of panic in teachers.  We now know our students well, their strengths and weaknesses.  We need to reflect on this with rational thought and calmness!  I know I can very easily push the panic button, and think, "Oh, my! Susie isn't reading accurately at all! Davey has breakdowns in reading comprehension! Marty loses her train of thought when writing! Will Kathy ever master writing an accurate equality equation?" You get the idea, typical teacher panic!

I urge you to think of end of the quarter assessments as your learning and reflection tools. For example, we've just completed our narrative writing post assessments.  Take them for what they are worth, don't turn them into a high stakes assessment, learn from them, then move forward with new and exciting goals for your students.  Remember, assessments are one tool, one snapshot.  My friends over at Two Writing Teachers have an amazing  blog series this week all about writing assessments.  They are sharing critical insights and reminders.  I especially liked this post by Beth Moore on the joys, wonders and challenges of on demand writing assessments.  Beth has a beautiful way of reminding us of how to enjoy assessment, carry it out and then glean important information from it.  I hope you take the time to read her post, then reflect and learn from your own students' work.  Don't beat yourself up about students who didn't do as well as you hoped.  Instead, celebrate the growing writer each child is, celebrate the opportunities that lie ahead.

In closing, I urge you, take a leap of faith, jump out of the hamster wheel for a moment, sit down and reflect.  What are you proud of that you've accomplished with your students? How has each child grown under your expert tutelage? What is successful about the learning environment you've created this year?  What have your assessments told you about where your students are and where they will go next?  What will the next steps of your classroom journey look like?  Most importantly, have some fun along the way!
Best regards for uplifting parent conferences next week!
Kathy