Saturday, March 7, 2015

Celebrate This Week - Conversations

When I was thinking of what to write for today—the 72nd week of Celebrate this Week on Ruth’s blog—I thought of conversation. I love to talk. Those that know me won’t be surprised by that comment. But I think talk is undervalued in our classrooms. It is critically important for our students to process and grow. For that reason, I am celebrating conversations this week.
Conversation with students
Conversation is the cornerstone of our classroom. Turn and talk is something the students do in any given mini-lesson. It can also be a management technique. When I taught a lesson on Wednesday—after a snow day—I noticed everyone on the carpet was trying to share a story in response to my question. In my mind, I was reminding myself to breathe. I knew that what they did the previous day had nothing to do with the lesson at hand. I also knew they would find anyway possible to weave it into their answers because in their eleven year old minds, it was the only thing important. So I stopped and said, “Yes, Suzie, that is awesome that you got to go sledding yesterday. How about you all turn and talk to your neighbor for just a moment. Share what you did yesterday for our snow day.” And then, in two minutes, they were done. They just needed to get the stories out so they could focus on the lesson at hand.

This week and next I made a goal to hold as many reading conferences as humanly possible. I gave myself over to them. No preconceived goals or teaching points needed. During these two weeks of PARCC testing I just want to sit with each student and talk to them. How’s their book going? What do they like about it? Anything they want to share. It has been awesome and I feel like I’m reconnecting with my students and centering myself at the same time.

Conversation with colleagues
As I mentioned, this week has been our first week of PARCC testing and it would be easy to have negative conversations. I could fill blog posts with that and my thoughts about these darn tests. But, I also know how easily it is to go down that rabbit hole. I didn’t want my week to be negative, so I sought out positive conversations this week. I asked my friends what was interesting that was happening in their classrooms. I talked to former teachers substituting in our building this week about what was going on in their lives. I had an amazing conversation with a really smart colleague over lunch about what the future was of our district and education in general. I talked to some of the reading teachers in my building at a PLC meeting and just shared ideas. I left the week feeling rejuvenated and so hopeful for what is to come.

Conversation with friends and family
I love staying home. Absolutely love it. I think my happy place is at home. Travel is fine. Going out to dinner is lovely. But I am my happiest either in my classroom or in my house. It calms me and relaxes me. That being said, I love to see friends and family. Last night I went to a family dinner at my brother’s home. I got to catch up with family, see relatives that were in town visiting, talk to my cousin about what makes a good teacher, and just laugh. It was wonderful. And, even though all of my being says it would rather stay home tonight and hibernate, I’m going to go out to dinner with my husband and then plan on catching up with friends for a bit. The conversations will feed me for some time and I know I will be grateful I went.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend and terrific week next week.