Monday, August 5, 2013

Slice of Life - Habits

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers

I’ve been thinking through habits that I have established ever since leaving the Choice Literacy retreat last week. I’m currently reading a book Brenda Power gave us while we were there – The Power of Habit. It is amazing to realize how many things we do without even thinking about them on a daily basis.

Some habits I have been trying to establish include exercise daily, writing regularly, and being kinder to myself. That last one is tough! That darn critic I keep mentioning is determined to stick around. Today she decided to pipe in as I was reading a new PD book I had just received in the mail as I lounged at the pool. As I read it, my heart fell. It was amazing, of course. I began to question what I possibly do in my classroom that is worth writing a book about. It’s just normal teaching – recommending books, talking books, using authentic assignments. The darn critic whispered to me – and I began to question.

Then, I looked up from said PD book. Jaxon, a student from last year’s class, walked up to my pool chair to ask me what I was reading. He sat down as I tried to explain the concept the book was about. Jaxon asked great questions and compared it to things we did last year in the classroom. He left, I returned to my book. My heart felt a little lighter.

After a bit more, I felt a spray of water on me as another student, Rye, walked up from the diving boards. I asked him about what he was reading – he rattled off a few books, lamenting the fact that they were both on his Kindle, and it wasn’t charged. I reminded him that he could use the library or borrow books from me. He grinned, shared a few thoughts on the books, and off he went.

Back to the book for a bit more – smile out in full force at this point. Then I felt someone move next to me. I looked up and an incoming fifth grade sat down beside me. Emma said she was in the hunt for a new book to read and heard I was the person to ask. We swapped titles; she pulled out her current read out of her beach bag. When we were done she asked when class lists were posted. I told her to look for them one week from Wednesday.

“I hope I’m in your class,” she whispered.

So sweet. I reassured her that no matter whose class she was in, she is welcome in my room to check out books and talk about what she is reading. Smiling, she headed off to join her friends in the pool.

I sat there, looking over the top of my book as I watched these three kids swim. Glancing around the pool I saw lifeguards – kids I had taught ten years or more ago, but still catch up with whenever I go to the pool or see them around town. I waved to some boys leaving to head home, watched Liam hop off the board, and began to gather our stuff to head home.

My habits are ingrained. Some are great, some need work. I realized a few things today. I treat others better than I treat myself. This is a habit I need to break. I’ve decided that my critic needs to zip it.  What I do in my classroom works for me. Maybe I don’t have any earth shattering strategies that no one has seen before. I don’t create lesson plans that would take your breath away. What I do in my room is simple – build relationships that last a lifetime. Get to know my students and their interests. Talk books and writing any time I possibly can. So far, it seems to pay off. The proof is in those kids – the ones that still come to sit with their teacher poolside to talk books. Those grown kids who are headed to college, but still make time to catch up. And the ones I haven’t taught yet – but look forward to meeting. These faces will be the ones I remember when that critic reappears. That is my new habit. When I hear that critic, I will picture Jaxon, Rye, Emma – and so many more. Fourteen days and a new school year will be in front of me. I cannot wait to meet my new group, to begin building our classroom, to match them to books, to share my reading life and learn about theirs. These are my habits and I cannot wait to begin.