My classroom is not a quiet, orderly place.
Students are constantly moving, thinking, talking, reading and writing.
I do my best to help my students find success.

October 30, 2012

Eyes on the storm

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Two Writing Teachers

On Sunday and Monday I couldn't stop watching the media and coverage of Hurricane Sandy.  My thoughts were with the residents of the northeast.  I've never lived in a hurricane-prone area, and I think those living in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey really thought they didn't either, until recently.

I joked with a coworker that I needed to turn off my empathy button, focus on my students, and forget about people facing days of rain, wind, downed trees and no power.  But I realized that my feelings of empathy are impossible to turn off, especially when there's a big storm.

Ten years ago, we experienced 7 inches of rain in one night, and back then I could sleep through thunderstorms.  I woke up the next morning and walked down to our finished basement to get some clean clothes.  As I stepped down from the last step, my foot squished into the carpet.  My mind could not figure out why the carpet would be wet.

We soon discovered that our basement had flooded with sewage because the previous owners had connected the basement bathroom right to the sewer line.  There was no check valve or overhead sewers (I've learned about these now).

I'm embarrassed to admit that I cried as we threw away toys we couldn't wash and tore up nearly new carpeting.  I remember stressing out at my grandmother's house as I washed the 10th load of laundry, crying that I couldn't deal with one more sewer-soaked towel.

We flooded twice after that storm, and both times we were able to contain the flood to a small area.  We finally fixed the sewer connection, and our hope is that we won't have to deal with that mess again.

Every time I hear that high waters and wind will threaten people I love or barely know, I can't help but feel for them.  Yes, water damages our stuff, and it can be replaced, but the idea of dealing with such a mess makes my heart hurt.

Today I looked at the devastation the hurricane caused in many places.  I wish the residents of the northeast strength and stamina as they deal with a huge interruption to their lives and a massive cleanup.

October 23, 2012

Second Guessing

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Two Writing Teachers

It's my 10th year of teaching in my current position, at my current school.  This year (for reasons I can't pinpoint) I've taken on a bad habit.

Second guessing.

I'm second guessing my instructional practices.
I'm second guessing my outlook on literacy.
I'm second guessing letting my students have free choice as well as leveled text in their book bags.
I'm second guessing nearly everything I'm doing.

It's exhausting!

On the other hand....

I'm great at brainstorming ideas for the classroom teachers in my building, always with the caveat, "I don't have a classroom, but have you thought about....?"

But then....

The more advice I give, the more I start to second guess what I'm doing and how I'm doing it.

I've always tried NOT to compare myself to other teachers, but then I launch into excuses.

"She's able to try that because her students have more language skills."
"She can accomplish that because she's more effective at behavior management."
"She just wants to impress others."

Second guessing makes for long days, upset stomachs and little sleep.

Maybe I should follow the advice I give to so many colleagues, especially our newest teachers:

"Pick one thing.  Dig in.  Research.  Try. Reflect. Try again.  But only pick ONE thing."

Time to find that ONE thing.  Time to stop second guessing.