Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Writing Wednesday - Writing through Reflection

Today's post is about writing to reflect. Today on my fifth day of summer, I'm thinking back to my last days with my seventh graders this school year. My friend Colby isn't out yet for summer. I just saw a post from him somewhere on social media yesterday that his class looked the same during the school year as it did at the end of the school year. That really resonated with me.

My students in seventh grade know how school works. They wisely asked during the days leading up to the end of the school year when our grades were due. I was honest and said they were due Wednesday by noon. Our last day would be Friday. Someone smiled in first hour and asked if we'd be watching movies that entire last week then. I looked at them and smiled while the rest of the class laughed, including the kid that asked. Nope. We had days left together and I would be filling them up right until the end.

Last week wrapped up my 23rd year in education. In teaching kids from preschool through seventh grade I've figured a few things out. The more I stray from our typical schedule, the more poor behavior choices increase. The more I close down the classroom, the more the kids close down as well. As a result, I tend to teach right up until the end. Not with time fillers, but with lots of reflection. With the stuff we've done all year - time to read, time to write, time to share. 

We also have time to reflect. I asked each student to fill out a reflection of our class and our year. I break down the components of our workshop and ask them to tell me what they liked and disliked about all of it. I ask how they grew as readers, as writers. I ask what I could have done to make the year better for them? I ask how they felt about coming to our room each day.

Sometimes their reflection is hard to take. However, when that's the case, I feel good that I have set up a situation where they feel like they can be honest with me. These forms aren't anonymous, but the kids are still truthful. Sometimes their reflection guts me. Like the note on the bottom of one from a kid who was far from easy, who I wondered if I connected with, and who wrote me a note so honest and heartfelt that I sat in my classroom and cried. I'm so grateful that I had the chance to teach him, to teach them all.

And that was what our last four days were filled with - Padlets to share our reading lives with each other, with you, and with my students next year. Reflection on the class, on ourselves. And all too soon, our last day was there. As I set the time for the last time of independent reading a kid shouted out that I was making him sad, I should say it was our last time. When we sat down to watch the amazing short documentary on Jason Reynolds (check it out HERE), kids laughed that I had two "Jasons" in my life - Jason Momoa and Reynolds, that maybe Chris would be jealous. Grinning, I told them that it was time to write. In each class heads bent over notebooks, over Chromebooks, and fingers flew. I sat in front of my empty notebook and filled the page, grateful for this job I get to have and certain that I wouldn't want to waste any bit of it at the end of the year.

In case you're interested, I've shared our Padlets for the last week below. The first one is the kids' Top Ten books of the year. The second is their Padlet about how much they read and what their favorite book was. Enjoy!
Made with Padlet
Made with Padlet