It’s time again
to look back
Here’s a milestone for you: This was the first week that didn’t end with me completely exhausted, completely overwhelmed, and completely frustrated. Sure, I’ve had my small successes, but it’s been rough, as you know. This week felt better, even though it might not have looked better.
This week began three guided reading groups, one of them led by me, and two led by able assistants as part of our school-wide Title 1 program. One of them will end next week, as our Special Ed teacher has decided, and I agree, that a couple of my students are fully unable to function at the independent level required of Reading and Writing Workshop. She’ll stop leading a group and work with them on her own. Maybe in a few years, if I get this thing down, that wouldn’t be necessary. But for now, I think it is best for those two students.
Management continues to be the big struggle. I’ve been trying to decide if this really is the most difficult class I’ve ever had, or if it just seems that way because of all the new things I’m trying to do. I’m leaning toward most difficult. If I think back to every class I’ve had before, I think I’d rather have started RWW with any of them. But I didn’t. And I’m here now. And we’re doing this thing, whether I like it or not. And whether they like it or not. I’m not one to give up. I tell my class, “I believe in you. I believe you can do this work.” I believe in myself, too.
So management. It’s been so, so hard, because I find that I have to manage our independent work so much, which sabotages my ability to run groups and confer. Conferring was pretty much nonexistent this week (Ack!). I checked in with several students about their Reader’s Notebook letters, but that was it. Argh! Actually, thank goodness for those letters–they give me at least a little interaction with each student, each week…though not face to face. Ugh!
Still, slight improvements this week. Slight. Too slight to list, maybe too slight to notice, even. But enough to make me feel OK when Friday rolled around.
We also all made a learning goal and a behavior goal. Two reasons for this: One, I started student-led conferences last year and intend to continue them this year. The goals will be talking points for the students during Fall Conferences. And two, we need them. I made–and shared–them, too. My learning goal had to do with tracking missing work, which I needed to improve but wasn’t quite relevant to students. But my behavior goal was about what I wrote last week–my sudden lack of patience. I made it a goal to be more patient and get angry less by taking a deep breath and counting to five in my head. I demonstrated it several times this week…
A teacher across the hall said, “I heard stern talking and I thought, ‘Is that Adam? Always so level-headed and calm? He must be joking.’ I peeked in and saw ‘Oh. Nope. He’s serious.'” She was surprised. And nervous, I think–she’s a fifth grade teacher. If these fourth graders are making me crazy, then…
Sigh. I hope my blood pressure’s not going up.
I’m going to stop writing this now and not go read student letters and not go read Units of Study and not enter grades or correct work. I’m going to go finish my book.
Thanks for reading. I’m glad you’re with me.