Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Well, if you’ve been reading this blog of late, you know I am on the path to an emotional melt down. For those keeping track at home, three and a half days of school left – or twenty-four hours. Either way I look at it, my brain screams one thing – it’s going too fast.

Yet, I have had the first glimmers of excitement over summer. I LOVE going to the pool. (This is not to be confused with a love for bathing suits.) I basically lived at the pool in the summers growing up and see no reason to stop as an adult. So I had the flutters of excitement when realizing the opening day of the pool is upon us.

I also am extremely excited about summer reading camp this year. This is something I offer on my own to offset some of the costs of attending way too many professional development workshops. If you want to know more about them, you can read about them on the second page of this blog. The link to it is under the header above.

Finally, I love to reflect (hence the name of this blog.) I enjoy thinking about what I’ve learned in any given year. I’ve already begun that process this year. This class will go down as one of my all-time favorites. I love all classes, but sometimes things just click. This was one of those groups. If I could move on with them, I would in a heartbeat. So when I reflect back on this year, some of what I remember is academic based, and some is just funny things I learned from my students. Here are a few things I will never forget.

·      The meaning of Parkour – and watching countless hours of video on it. Scary, but somehow I still would love to try some of it. YIKES!
·      Watching Kyle fall over in a stool as he laughed, crushing the stool.
·      Trying out new units with my students – and having them go well. (Slice of Life, picture book biographies, Notice & Note.)
·      Learning to use Evernote with this group and the possibilities for next year.
·      Ditto to Edmodo.
·      Sharing more of my writing – and myself – with a class than ever before. Having them be super supportive.
·      Shedding tears over students – new and old – as I worried about them. Wondered what made people make the decisions they do. Wondered what I could do to help.
·      Learning more about current pop culture from my students.
·      Trying to teach digital citizenship. Being grateful social media didn’t exist when I was a teen. Feeling horrified that my boys will be growing up with it. Worried that one mistake will ruin lives.
·      Marveling at the end of the year regarding the growth of the three classes as readers and writers. Worrying over students I still didn’t feel I reached completely.
·      Having visitors in person (Gabe Bridwell, Marianne Malone, Brenda Power) and on Skype (Ame Dyckman, Gae Polisner, Mr. Schu’s classes, Ms. Myers-Culver’s classes) – to name a few. These all helped to make our world smaller and our classroom larger.

Often I reach the end of the year and am hard on myself. I see everything I didn’t accomplish, instead of what I did. I started to do that yesterday when I had a unique opportunity. Because of some scheduling with my team members, I was going to have all three of my classes for two hours in the afternoon – at the same time. That’s sixty-seven students for two hours in one classroom. Holy Moses. I paused when I was thinking of what to do. A movie would be an easy choice, but as I have already said, I don’t have enough time left as it is; I’m certainly not going to waste it with a movie. So I paused. We have been working on picture book biographies. I decided to continue and have them present in groups at the end of the two hours. I was apprehensive, would they be crazy? How do you manage that large of a group in a normal sized classroom? And you know what – it worked.

They were not perfect. There was some chatter, but I was ok with it. They moved themselves all over the classroom and into the hall (and down the stairs.) At the start I was trying so hard to keep everyone on task. After about twenty minutes, I realized that for the most part, they were. I relaxed and let myself enjoy time with these three groups.

Through the two hours I had conversations about books, growth in reading, summer plans, friendships, choices we make, and more. I hugged a few girls that were reading a certain book that is “hot” right now. I lay on the floor and conferenced with some students (it was so hot, it was cooler down there.) I laughed with some of my boys over a YouTube video. The day rocked. And while I would not want that many kids in my room on a normal basis, as I looked back, I am so glad it worked out that way. It was kind-of like a last hurrah for us, as a reading community, all together.

Then I played the #wonderofwonder soundtrack that Mr. Schu sent me way back in August. As they sang along, tears sprang to my eyes. There goes that time again, just slipping away.

A student looked at me and grinned – Are you crying about us, again?

Nope, just allergies. I lied. Oh Lordy, next Wednesday is going to be a doozy. 

Some photos/ video of my students during our two hour reading class yesterday - aren't they just awesome?