Man alive, I need to celebrate. Thankfully Ruth Ayres organizes this weekly celebration over at her blog. (HERE) Yesterday was our thirteenth day of school. I feel like I have run a marathon. No, more than that. Maybe one of those ultra marathons. Yep. That's it. And the entire thing has been uphill.
It isn't that the year hasn't been wonderful. This class rocks, I can already tell. I love them to pieces. I have so much working in my favor. It's my youngest son, Liam's, class. I've known so many of these kids since they were small. I've held several within days of them being born. In all honesty, out of the 68 students I am teaching this year, I knew 41 already. Either I've taught their siblings or they were friends of Liam. That's a heck of an advantage.
That being said, the marathon. There is so much you have to do the first thirteen days in language arts. I needed to confer quickly with anyone in language arts intervention last year and see if I felt they needed some extra help immediately. I needed to get my Fountas & Pinnell tests done. I needed to give the benchmark tests for reading and writing. It is exhausting. Oh, and the heat index approached 100 on Wednesday, was over 100 on Thursday and Friday. My room is not air conditioned and felt like an oven. Thankfully, we did get out an hour early, but wowza. What a week.
When Friday was said and done, and I was home in my air conditioning (and had showered!), I reflected on the week. I realized I had so much to celebrate with this group, even more now that my start of the year assessments are done and I can simply teach! Here are just a few celebrations from this week:
This class is devouring graphic novels like nothing I have ever seen before. Many of them didn't know Babymouse or Lunch Lady until I book talked them the first week. One sweet little girl asked if she was allowed to read them since they were clearly below her reading level. I asked if she enjoyed them, she smiled and said yes. I told her that reading was meant to be enjoyed. If she planned on reading them as her only books all year, I would need to help her find something to supplement her reading diet. But read the series. Reread a favorite. Just read.
Power of Twitter
Speaking of graphic novels, I read a new one this week - HiLo The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick. It was at my house on Tuesday, I had preordered it. I read it and laughed. So amazing. Bringing it to school on Wednesday, the waiting list became longer with every book talk. Then I saw that you could enter a contest using #HiLo in a tweet for a free book and some art work. My students quickly thought of an idea, we took a photo, sent the tweet, and were one of the winners! The kids were pumped and even bigger fans of Twitter than they were before.
Sixty-eight little sponges
One of my favorite things about the start of the year is watching students soak everything up. It's all new to them. All of your stories, procedures, tech pieces you use are brand new. I shared book trailers this week, a child went home and created one himself. Books I've loved, they've never heard of. I told the story of sobbing over Jo Knowles See You at Harry's to my homeroom Friday afternoon as we all sat on the floor, melting. My two copies were checked out immediately. Three girls ran to the school library and the librarian went to the middle school and got three copies for them. I love watching the excitement unfold.
This year I'm working on having the students reflect on their reading and writing on Fridays. How did they grow this week? What are their goals for next week. Sometimes they just write "I read/wrote more." But others? They are so insightful. "I wrote about hard things." "I finally found a book I liked." "When I was sad this week, I picked up my journal and wrote. I think that shows growth." It is a great way to end my week, reading these reflections.
I share a lot about myself at the start of the year. I need to build connections as soon as possible. Sometimes I worry that I'm sharing too much. That kids are thinking, "Get to the point, Mrs. S." When I get a text like this, though, my heart melts. I know we are starting off strong. The connections and relationships that are built are important. This makes me think that this could be one of the great years. I cannot wait to see where it takes us.